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August 10, 2012
DWIGHT HOWARD Is Officially A LAKER:

Dwight Howard is a Los Angeles Laker. Officially.

The NBA on Friday approved a four-team, 12-player megadeal between the Lakers, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets.

"Well, it looks like Superman has found a home," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant wrote on his Facebook page.

Philadelphia gets All-Star center Andrew Bynum from Los Angeles and Jason Richardson from Orlando, while Denver gets 76ers All-Star Andre Iguodala, playing for the U.S. men’s basketball team Friday in the Olympics semifinals against Argentina.

"It’s not often you get the opportunity to improve your team by adding an All-Star player like Andre Iguodala," Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. "He’s an Olympian, a great defender and a great all-around player."

Orlando received six players and five picks: Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver; Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless from Philadelphia; Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga from the Lakers; and lottery protected first-round picks from each of the three teams.

The Lakers also receive point guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark from Orlando.

Remaining in LA, as reported by Yahoo! Sports on Thursday, is Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who was initially involved in negotiations.

“A primary goal for our basketball team is to achieve sustainability while maintaining a long-term vision. We feel this deal puts us in a position to begin building in that direction,” Magic GM Rob Hennigan said in a release announcing the trade. “In addition to the six players joining our team, we will be in a position to maximize our salary cap flexibility in the near future, as well as utilize the multiple draft picks we have acquired going forward.”

In Bynum, the Lakers give up a player they drafted out of high school and developed into a potential star.

"We’d like to thank Andrew for all he’s done for the team and the organization," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "Andrew has been with us since we drafted him at 17 years old and over the last seven years we have watched him develop into an All-Star player who has helped the team win two NBA championships. He’s a special talent with a bright future."

The deal, first reported on Thursday night, brings to a merciful end months of talks between the Magic and numerous other teams trying to grant Howard’s request to leave Orlando.

Howard entered last season as the subject of trade rumors, especially since he could have opted out of his deal at season’s end and become a free agent. He decided that he would not exercise that option, then found himself in another firestorm in April when coach Stan Van Gundy said Howard wanted him fired.

Howard denied it. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Van Gundy’s gone, former GM Otis Smith is gone, and now so is Howard.

Howard averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds in 54 regular-season games for Orlando last season. In eight seasons with the Magic, he averaged 18.4 points and 13.0 rebounds. The 26-year-old remains adamant that he will test free agency next year, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, but that doesn’t make the Lakers any less of a title contender in 2012-13.

Bryant knows that.

"I know LA is excited about the deal and rightfully so," Bryant, also with the Olympic team, said on Friday via his Facebook page. “The Lakers landed a piece that will hopefully carry the franchise long after I’m gone. I have spoken to Dwight Howard already and we are locked and loaded to bring back the title.”

Count Sporting News’ Sean Deveney among those who think the deal sets up a showdown between Bryant, Howard, Gasol, Steve Nash and the defending champion Miami Heat.

Via SportingNews With The Associated Press

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