The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired six-times All-Star Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic as part of a four-team, 12-player deal including the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA teams said on Friday.
The deal thrusts the Lakers back into the mix of contenders for an NBA title as Howard, the face of the Magic franchise and a three-time defensive player of the year, joins Kobe Bryant, Pao Gasol and Steve Nash in Los Angeles.
Howard’s move to Los Angeles concludes a drawn-out process during which the Magic’s top scorer and rebounder for each of the last six seasons went back and forth in his decision on whether to stay with the team.
The 26-year-old centre, taken first overall by Orlando in the 2004 NBA Draft, had requested a trade before the 2011-12 NBA season but then said in March he would stick with the Magic rather than test free agency.
But last month he reiterated his desire to be traded and said if a move was not made he would leave the team when his current contract expires at the end of next season.
The attention on his playing future was the most directed at any prospective free agent since three-time NBA most valuable player LeBron James went on national television to announce his much-publicised move to Miami in 2010.
“I’m kinda glad the whole thing is over. I’m sad for Orlando that they weren’t able to hold a huge star here,” said 39-year-old Orlando-based based real estate broker Alex Downey.
Orlando gets guard Arron Affalo and forward Al Harrington from the Nuggets, forward Maurice Harkless and centre Nikola Vucevic and from the 76ers and forward Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga from the Lakers.
The Magic, who sent guard Jason Richardson to the 76ers, will also receive five draft picks, including three first-rounders, over the next five years.
In addition to Howard, the Lakers get guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark from Orlando.
Philadelphia get twice NBA champion centre Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Denver land forward Andre Iguodala from the 76ers.