LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Dwight Howard saga took a shocking and final turn Friday afternoon, when a second blockbuster trade, this time involving the Miami Heat, was completed.
“This is just crazy,” Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski said. “The Dwightmare is over. It all happened so fast. Two trades. I’m stunned. Howard will end up on the Miami Heat and form what is now being dubbed The Even Bigger Four,” Wojnarowski continued.
Howard was traded from the Magic to the Lakers earlier in the day, in a four-team trade that involved the Nuggets and Sixers. The reported deal sent Howard, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark to the Lakers; Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets; Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson to the Sixers; and Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and Christian Eyenga to the Magic. Orlando also received five draft picks over the next five years, including first round picks from each of the other teams and second round picks from the Nuggets and Lakers.
But then, in a shocking development, the Lakers traded the newly-acquired Howard to the Miami Heat. The finalized deal has Howard going to the Heat in exchange for Joel Anthony, Mike Miller, Dexter Pittman, Udonis Haslem and James Jones. The Heat will also confer a package of draft picks.
Financial considerations played a big part in the deal for Los Angeles. After the completion of the initial trade for Howard, the Lakers projected to have payroll obligations of at least $128 million for the coming season, including $29 million in luxury taxes. For the 2013-14 season, the numbers were even more staggering. Based on Howard’s maximum salary demands, and at the league’s currently projected $73 million tax threshold, payroll obligations were projected to be around $190 million. Add in a projected revenue sharing bill of around $50 million and you get a whopping $240 million total – more than the combined payroll, luxury tax and revenue sharing obligations of five NBA teams from last season. That amount proved to be too much, even for the mighty Lakers.
The Lakers’ subsequent trade eases the financial burden considerably. Both Miller and Jones have reportedly given assurances that they will immediately retire, freeing the Lakers of nearly $22 million in future salary commitments to the duo. The remaining three players will make just $9 million this season, approximately $11 million less than the $20 million Howard is set to earn. That’s a savings of $22 million this season alone when including the tax. But the real savings comes the following season, with the Lakers projected to save more than $60 million.
The kicker in the deal involves the draft picks that will be conferred. Preliminary reports have the Heat sending to the Lakers ten first round draft picks and ten second round draft picks over the next ten years.
League rules prohibit a team from sending out all of its future first round draft picks in consecutive years as well as trading picks more than seven years into the future, which would seemingly invalidate the deal. However, Commissioner David Stern issued an exception in this particular situation, which allowed the trade to be completed.
Said Stern: “We put new rules in place to allow this trade to happen because of its importance not only to the Miami Heat but also to the entire NBA. We have a singular focus, and that is to generate more total revenues than any other pro sports league. We fucked up last year when we imposed that ridiculous lockout. We weren’t about to do it again. That should have been evident when we approved the motion to add hideous advertisements to team uniforms starting in 2013. So when the opportunity to get Howard to Miami arose, we naturally had to approve it. The Heat will now be the most marketable team in all of sports. Whether you love them or hate them, you’ll all be watching every minute of Heat basketball for years to come.”
Howard has reportedly agreed to sign a three-year extension with the Heat, at an average salary equal to that of Dwyane Wade’s final three seasons. However, per league rules, the extension cannot be officially executed for six months.
Howard becomes the latest member of the Heat to take a discount to play in Miami. Howard’s extension will total $62 million, $6 million less than he was eligible to receive. Just about every player on the roster has now taken a discount to take his talents to South Beach.
When asked to comment, Heat president Pat Riley initially declined. He instead pointed to his slicked-back hair.
He went on to say “I’m just glad to get rid of all those draft picks.”
The Heat now figures to enter the season as the prohibitive favorite to win the title, just hours after the Lakers were immediately thrust into that role.
Miami’s lineup features four players widely considered among the best in the world at their respective positions – Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and now Howard. Incumbent starter Mario Chalmers figures to round out the starting five.
In his introductory news conference, Howard promised to bring to the Heat new and innovative ways to chastise his starting point guard. Past references made by Wade and James about Chalmers being their “little bitch” are weak and outdated, he said.
In response to the series of trades, Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert has filed a formal complaint with Commissioner Stern. The paper on which the complaint was written was reportedly utilized by Stern as toilet paper. Sources say Stern felt the crumpled paper was rough and not very comforting to his anus.
A parade has been scheduled in Miami for Sunday at noon. It will air, in part, as a 30-minute special on ESPN entitled “Another Decision.”