NBA free agency 2013: Dwight Howard picking Rockets could mean Magic won August trade

Nik Vučević - Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Magic gave up the best player in the Dwight Howard trade, but may have fared better in the long run than any of the other three teams involved.

The news that free-agent center Dwight Howard has apparently elected to sign with the Houston Rockets has prompted some NBA fans and analysts to do a quick review of the trade which sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first place. And in that review, some people--including Howard Beck and Zach Harper--find that the Orlando Magic may have come out ahead, despite losing the best player in the trade and not acquiring any of the three All-Stars who changed teams in it.

In the deal, which was completed on August 10th, 2012, the Magic sent Howard, Earl Clark, and Chris Duhon to the Lakers, as well as Jason Richardson to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return, they received Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from the Denver Nuggets; Nik Vučević and Maurice Harkless from the Philadelphia 76ers; and Christian Eyenga and Josh McRoberts from the Lakers.

Orlando waived Eyenga in training camp and traded McRoberts to the Charlotte Bobcats for cash at February's trading deadline. Harrington only made 10 appearances as he rehabilitated from a staph infection in his knee. But Afflalo, Harkless, and Vučević grew into starting roles, with Afflalo leading the team in scoring and Vučević finishing just behind Howard for the league's rebounding title. Add to their production the prospect of future Draft considerations from Denver, Philly, and L.A., and Orlando looks pretty good.

The other teams did not seem to fare so well. Injuries ruled Andrew Bynum, the All-Star center who moved from L.A. to the Sixers, out for the entire season, and his Sixers tenure appears to be over. Andre Iguodala, the All-Star swingman whom the Sixers traded to Denver, agreed Friday to sign with the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers are left none of the players they received in the initial trade: Clark has committed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and L.A. waived Duhon to avoid guaranteeing his contract for the 2013/14 season.

Richardson is the only non-Magic player involved the trade who's still in the same place, and he underwent an operation in February to repair damaged cartilage in his left knee. It's fair to question what value the rehabilitating 32-year-old guard adds to the rebuilding Sixers.

It would thus appear that Orlando handily won the four-team trade, but there's another side to consider: Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel proposes that it's impossible to win a trade when you lose a talent as great as Howard.

What do you think? Did Orlando win the Howard trade?

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