Orlando thinks its long national 'Dwightmare' is over. In fact, the Magic's problems are just beginning as a result of their lopsided involvement in a soon-to-be-done four-team trade that sends Howard to the Lakers, leaves the Magic cupboard bare, and leaves MavsLand pondering the wisdom of 'Plan Powder.' Analysis in Donuts:
DONUT 1: What's the deal? ...
Orlando to start over ... mindlessly. I had a conversation last night with an Orlando media guy who is close to Dwight. I suggested that the arrangement -- Iggy to Denver, Bynum to Philly. Dwight to the Lakers, nothing of substance to the Magic -- is a deal Orlando simply doesn't need to make now.
My man's take: "Orlando gets closure.''
"Closure''? What position does he play?
I know people in the midst of divorce who think this way. There's this one woman who left her cheating hubby who happened to be quite wealthy. Because she was so motivated to get away from him, in their divorce settlement, she asked for nothing except the couple's wicker patio furniture.
So that's what she got. That, and hurried-up "closure.''
DONUT 2: What it means eventually to the Mavs ...
Neither Howard nor Bynum will sign an extension during the season with their new teams. Extensions for star players were effectively killed by the new CBA. The about-to-be free agent can now get two-to-three new years with an extension, but can get four-to-five years as a free agent. It's an obvious and easy choice. ... (Though we have seen Dwight flip-flop his way through obvious-and-easy choices before.)
Both Howard and Bynum will hit free agency next summer. At that time, we will all endure/be enthralled by the same dynamic we experienced this summer, when the league (and the Mavs) went on DeronQuest: the home team can offer five years, the other suitors can offer four.
DONUT 3: What's the eventual reality? ...
Dallas' battle to eventually acquire Dwight, or Bynum, or any other team's FA (like Chris Paul) is an uphill one.
The Mavs will be among the few teams with cap room AND the chance to join a superstar (the aging Dirk Nowitzki). Maybe somebody will see the benefits there ... benefits enough to forfeit the guaranteed money of the fifth year.
We know that Dwight believes he will eventually make up that fifth year with his next contract ... so perhaps it's not a impossible fight to get one of these players to leave their new homes. (If signing with the home team was always a lock, Orlando wouldn't have to trade Howard.)
DONUT 4: What's today's Mavs reality? ...
LA was already superior to the Mavs on paper. Dwight in LA makes that reality jump off the page. And no, this isn't like when the Lakers acquired Payton and Malone as ring-chasers; they were well beyond their prime and along with Kobe and Shaq only made for an impressive team poster.
Dwight, Pau, Kobe and Nash is a stunningly great core. There won't be chemistry issues; you watch, because Nash won't allow it. There won't be ball distrubution issues, either ... again, due to Nash.
If the Lakers are derailed in the West, it'll be due to the nagging back problems of Dwight and Nash, not because this year's Mavs -- as smartly assembled as they are -- have the predictable ability to beat them over the course of a long series.
The LA Times' reaction to the deal? "Go ahead and mark it down, with a Sharpie: The Lakers will make it back to the Finals in 2013. And they will win it. ... These Lakers might upstage even Showtime.''
Sickeningly ... possible.
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DONUT 6: How'd the Nuggets do? ...
They get Iggy in place of Afflalo. Need more?
What they lose in offense (if just a bit) they gain greatly on defense. Denver also throws in Harrington, and is left with a revamped lineup of Iggy at the 2, Ty Lawson at point guard, Danilo Gallinari at small forward, Kenneth Faried at the 4 and JaVale McGee at center.
Denver led the NBA in scoring last season. Now they have Iggy to help them on defense ... and as someone with greater star power than Afflalo.
DONUT 7: How'd the Sixers do? ...
It's a young playoff team that didn't stand pat. The short version of their flip: they traded Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia. Yeah, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and a draft pick go out to Orlando, and they take on the Jason Richardson ballast. But Iggy for Bynum is a helluva deal ... a second-tier star swapped out for a potential franchise player (who must re-up next summer with Philly to make it all worth it.).
Worth noting: Bynum is from New Jersey, and grew up about an hour outside of Philadelphia.
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DONUT 10: Every one of the four teams wins, except ...
The one that owned the rights to Dwight Howard.
The Magic get Harkless, a first-rounder who might be able to play. And Afflalo can score. Those first-round picks? Meh. If we are looking at (as NBA.com is reporting) a future first from Philly (with protection), the lower of Denver's firsts in 2014 and the Lakers' 2017 first ... meh.
The old trade saying: The team that receives the best player in a deal, wins. There is no "old trade saying'' to cover this circumstance, when a team owns a top-five player in the entire league -- owns his rights for another full year! -- and trades him for Aaron Afflalo.
Shoot, I thought this was outrageously lopsided on Thursday night when I believed Orlando was going to at least get Gasol out of the deal.
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DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Yes, yes, you are already sick of "Plan Powder.''
This is frustrating to witness. The Lakers did this and weren't even forced to have to lose Pau Gasol. In pulling that off, they hoodwinkwed somebody. The rich get richer. And to the LA homers who think that the SoCal weather and the Hollywood lure and the Lakers' regal history are not factors here ... c'mon.
You really think the difference between the Lakers and, say, the Bucks, is that Lakers management is brilliant and Bucks management is dopey? You don't think LA-vs.-Milwaukee (or Cleveland, or Portland, or maybe most of all, Orlando) has anything to do with it?
Can we go back and take a mulligan on that CBA that was supposed to balance out some of these inequities?
All of that fortifies the argument that "Plan Powder'' is worthless. And yet ...
What would be the alternative? Keep TY and DeShawn and try to beat the Dwight/Kobe/Pau/Nash Lakers that way? (By the way: That's a different argument than "Dallas should've sign TY and used him as Dwightbait. Which is a sound argument.)
"Keeping Our Powder Dry'' remains in place because it must ... even as it gives you the dry heaves.