I had been hoping all these last several months that some how, some way, Dwight Howard would either stay in Orlando with the Magic or be sent to the Brooklyn Nets or just to some outpost in the Eastern Conference.
It now appears the scenario that most Thunder fans were concerned about, the one that has Howard landing in L.A. with the Lakers is the one that's happening.
Word has come from the Magic's kingdom that new GM Rob Hennigan, formerly of the Thunder, has pulled together a deal with three other teams, the Lakers, Nuggets and Sixers that involves eight players and three future draft picks.
The bottom line for Thunder fans is that it appears both the Lakers and the Nuggets are getting better, the Lakers may be much better, perhaps good enough to now be the favorite to win the Western Conference this coming season.
LA's starting lineup will now include Steve Nash at the point, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and now Howard. The Laker bench is still suspect and who knows how well Hoaward will fit in in LA-LA Land, but still the starting lineup has gotten a serious upgrade.
Andrew Bynum leaves the Lakers but at least for next season Howard is an upgrade. Bynum will not be playiong in Orlando, he's being sent to Philly. The 76ers are sending All-Star and Olympian Andre Iguodala to Denver where he will apparently replace Al Harrington who's being shipped to Orlando.
Iggy would be an upgrade for Nuggets so there's more bad news for OKC. The Nuggets are also shipping out Arron Afflalo, who's headed to Orlando.
All together the Magic will get Afflalo, Harrington, Nicola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and a protected first round draft pick from L.A., Denver and Philadelphia.
The NBA still has to approve the deal and then everyone settles in. Everyone except probably Howard who has said he will not sign an extension with anyone, inlcuding the Lakers this season.
He wants to be a free agent and choose his own landing spot which could be Brooklyn or perhaps the Dallas Mavericks (more bad news for Thunder fans) which will have have a lot of salary cap room heading into the 2013 season.
The Lakers have made their moves, the Mavs are waiting to pounce and the Thunder have so far dumped some salary by not bringing back vets Fisher, Mohammed and Ivey and instead signing big men flops Hasheem Thabeet and Daniel Orton along with unkown commodity Hollis Thompson and draft pick Perry Jones III.
Who knows Thabeet and Orton could blossom in the OKC culture and could become bargains. So could Jones who looked good during Summer League before twisting an ankle.
No matter what happens with them it puts a little more pressure on Sam Presti and the Thunder ownership group to get new deals done with James Harden and Serge Ibaka. If the Thunder can lock those guys up long term then it will be a lot easier to face a future that includes Dwight Howard with the Lakers this season and maybe the Mavs in 2013.