It's official...Rob Hennigan got it correct. In what appeared to be an absolutely no-win situation, 'Henny' defied the odds and can now grin with a sense of extra pride. He got the best of the Sixers, Nuggets, and Lakers. The acknowledgement is ringing clear from media and fans of those other 3 teams, as well as those franchises not involved in the Dwightmare saga. It's never fun to lose your superstar. It's worse when it's happened a few times in your franchise's past. However, to know you got the better of a player trying to force his way out is pretty sweet to savor.
Philadelphia took in Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson (HIGH FIVE, ROB!) in a push to make the playoffs. They got shipped off Andre Iguodala to Denver and handed Hennigan Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. Both 'Moe' and 'Vooch' had several outstanding moments, started a lot of games, and look primed to be part of the core that pushes for championship contention in the future. Now look at Sixers. Bynum didn't play a game. J-Rich looks washed up. The 76ers have had to overhaul their entire front office. Oh, and now they're in obvious 'tank mode' after trading All-Star PG Jrue Holiday to New Orleans during the draft. They drafted projects in Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams, while they officially waived the white flag on any contention by acquiring Royce White. Sam Hinkle is playing demolition man just like 'Henny' did last year, but Philly's future has great uncertainty in comparison to Orlando.
Denver wanted Iguodala and now 'Iggy' is gone to Golden State. The Nuggets lost their Executive of the Year in Masai Ujiri to the Raptors, and decided to fire George Karl after he had a phenomenal 2012-2013 regular season campaign. It's a head-scratching firing because Denver was severely short-handed in the playoffs as they bowed out to the Warriors (Ouch). Orlando got Arron Afflalo back from the Nuggets in the Dwight transaction. Though he hasn't worked as a first or second scoring option in '12-'13, Afflalo is still a highly-valued piece by a lot of teams out West. At worse, Arron is an asset that Hennigan can gain more cap space, young talent, and/or draft picks for. Denver too must rebuild even with guys like Ty Lawson, a recovering Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler on the roster. It's not enough in a super-competitive Western Conference. Notice a trend yet in this piece?
Who knew there could be more joy for Orlando after defeating L.A. at Staples Center last December. The Lakers went for broke with Dwight and Steve Nash, and busted. Badly. Let L.A. dream about tanking for Andrew Wiggins or signing LeBron James in free agency. They took Chris Duhon's contract from us and I can still laugh about it. I'm thrilled Earl Clark got away from that mess and looks to be in a position to contribute well on a Cavaliers team dying to make the playoffs this upcoming campaign. Who knows, Dwight leaving may be the best thing for Mike D'Antoni. He still has Gasol, Nash, Metta, and definitely play a more free-flowing brand of ball. But they won't make the playoffs, they're future is screwed for the time being as the Buss family will be desperate for a Kobe successor, and so we folks in Orlando can smile again.
Dwight learned the hard way that he had it made after all in Orlando. He can't come back to his original NBA franchise. Not any time soon at least. So the next best thing was Houston. More so than Atlanta, Golden State, or even Dallas. Especially when you factor Head Coach and championship roster potential into the equation. Houston is still a larger market than Orlando, but it's much more 'small time' in comparison to the Los Angeles behemoth. Oh, and it's a vastly better tax haven if you're one out of the billions of people who haven't heard this statement before. It took mass media outlets like TMZ to rip open Dwight's personal life like an over-sized can opener to get Howard to realize how critical of an error in judgement was made. Lakers journalists (and so called journalists) and legends picked and prodded at Howard's flaws where the majority of fans and media in Orlando wouldn't nitpick.
It appears this time Dwight made a grown man decision and did what was best for him. Not family, not associates, not agents. Himself. I can at least respect him WAY MORE than in the past 2 years. His conscious will be all the better for him. Now health and dwindling athletic abilities are another matter.
It's not just Harkless, Afflalo, and Vucevic the Magic are celebrating about. I give the nod to Josh Robbins for providing us with what draft picks Orlando may/will end up with from last year's deal. Orlando gets the 2014 first round pick of which ever squad has the better win-loss record in '13-'14 between Denver and the Knicks. The Nuggets won't be making the playoffs and a lottery pick next summer would be beautiful. I hate saying this, but Magic fans may want to hope Carmelo Anthony misses a lot of games for the Knicks this upcoming season so that they become lottery bound as well. Let's see what moves Rob makes in free agency and if we see guys like Arron, Jameer, and/or Glen dealt to playoff contenders before training camp kicks off in October. Don't forget that $17+ million Trade Player Exception that doesn't expire until August 10th. Know this to be fact, I'll be having a Corona this weekend to toast Hennigan's brilliance in his 1-year at the helm so far.