Dwight Howard Deal To L.A. Is Done; The U.S. Hits The Semis

Is this End of Dwightmare Eve? Could the league’s best center — who also leads the NBA in being publicly disgruntled — actually be leaving for Laker pastures? It’s almost a near certainty that by this time tomorrow, Howard will be readying for his official debut as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers’ storied tradition of centers. Wilt, Kareem and Shaq also arrived at Los Angeles from another stop elsewhere, and all went on to next-level careers in the purple and gold. It’s time to introduce the wet blanket on this party in Lakerland, however: “IF.” As is, IF this trade, reported as involving the Lakers, Magic, 76ers and Nuggets, gets approved. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Friday morning is expected to see the framework, already agreed upon according to other reports, get fleshed out and proposed to the league office. Not long after that, the Orlando Sentinel said it was “done” as far as  the teams were concerned. The NBA will be served the paperwork soon and only if this deal breaks the CBA can David Stern reject it. “Basketball reasons” can’t cut it if it stays clear of any CBA-related icebergs. … How many lawyers would you guess are reading through every line of CBA paperwork tonight at team facilities? … If this thing is completed, it would bring Andre Iguodala to Denver, Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson to Philly, and Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo and Moe Harkless and at least three first-round picks to Orlando (these picks have turned out to be a protected first rounder in 2017 from L.A., a protected first rounder from Philly that can’t come any earlier than 2015 and a protected first rounder from Denver). Harkless can go because it’s been 30 days since he was drafted by Philly. There could be so many more moving parts to this deal that should come to light tomorrow but the centerpiece, no pun intended, is Dwight. Pau Gasol won’t be a part of it anymore as was once reported Thursday, which means for the first time in D12’s career he’ll have a peer next to him on the front line. How would he react to that? … The Dwight drama isn’t over yet. If this isn’t a classic move by him, we’re not sure what is. Even after possibly getting a trade to the Lakers — not his first choice, Brooklyn, but still a pretty cush landing spot — he will not sign an extension. The Lakers have six months to offer him one under terms of the new CBA we saw from free agency/CBA/legalese expert Larry Coon, but it sounds like he won’t be biting (of course, turning down an extension doesn’t mean he won’t return to L.A.; just ask CP3 and the Clippers about that). And why? Both the hometown Hawks and the Mavericks will have boatloads of money to drop in his lap next summer. He’ll get to play a few teams off each other, once again, even if he does stay with the Lakers. … Does this deal make any sense for Orlando, who wouldn’t be getting back a big man?  New Jersey and Houston have seemingly made better deals to the Magic, but those deals likely weren’t as enticing for the other teams needed to get it done. When you see names like Iggy out there, it’s reached a level where people aren’t just testing the water. … One of the biggest winners from this deal already looks like Denver, which could get better from a major trade again. Think of this top six for the Nugs: Ty Lawson, Iggy, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee. Even JaVale running the wrong way would be tough to make that group not click. But could it beat the Lakers with Howard? Highly doubtful with a rejuvenated Steve Nash at point. … Today the U.S. men get to see the team that started all their headaches back in 2004: Argentina. The semis of the Olympic Games should be more competitive than the pool-play matchup from last week, where Manu was clicking but few others could be effective. We’ve watched as the attitude has turned from hesitant toward this team’s eventual golden crown to an all-but certainty. As we mentioned earlier today, the U.S. is shooting 45 percent from three, which is better than three teams have been from two. Those teams, of course, aren’t going to the semis. … New Blazers coach Terry Stotts hasn’t had a winning season in two different head coaching jobs, but it looks like he’s learned from them. He’s got a keen memory of specific details that went wrong, in fact. … And someone at a Michael Jordan camp is going to have to explain this fake D-Wade autograph to this kid and his bosses. … We’re out like D12.

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