Report: Four-team deal sending Howard to Lakers finalized, awaits league approval

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Finally, Dwight Howard is being traded.

A complex four-team trade that sends Dwight Howard to the Lakers and Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets and involves the 76ers and Magic has been approved in principle by the teams and will go to the league for formal approval on Friday, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources close to the process told Stein and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne that a trade call with the league office has been scheduled for Friday to secure the necessary NBA approval to make the deal official.

The deal means the Lakers get Howard; the Magic get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, just drafted Moe Harkless (No. 15 pick in this draft) and a first round pick from each of the three other teams; the Sixers get Andrew Bynum and take on Jason Richardson and his contract; the Nuggets get Andre Iguodala.

That varies from the original report but fits with reports that Pau Gasol is not part of the deal. Expect some changes in the final form, but that seems to be the core of it.

This makes a lot of sense for the Lakers — they would start Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Antwan Jamison (probably), Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and off the bench… does it matter? They would move up with the Heat as title contenders, and we can debate it but I think it moves them just past the Thunder.

However, Howard will not sign an extension with the Lakers. He shouldn’t, if he does he only gets three years at lower raises than if he becomes a free agent and re-signs with the Lakers. That would let him get a five year max deal with larger raises. Still, there is some risk for the Lakers.

Also, there is concern about Howard’s back — he had surgery on it and is rehabbing it in Los Angeles. That said he does not have a history of injury concerns (like Bynum), before last season he had never missed more than three games.

I get this for the Nuggets, who have wanted Iguodala for a while.

I get this for the Sixers, who get an anchor big in Bynum — and they are reportedly willing to gamble they can re-sign him. Philly athletes will tell you that if the fans in the city respect you and your effort it is the best place in the world to play… Bynum lived up to that last season, but before not so much. Bynum also grew up in New Jersey about an hour from Philly. Bynum is very money motivated and the extra cash the Sixers can offer with his Bird rights will play a big role. Also, Richardson’s deal is less painful than Iggy’s.

For the Magic, is this really better than what they were offered before? Afflalo is a quality NBA wing, Vucevic is young and could develop into a solid big, Harrington can be bought out after this season, Harkless is a rookie. There are three picks but all are lower in the draft.

Is that better than what the Nets offered with Brook Lopez and picks? Is it better than the picks and cap relief the Rockets are offering?

Or, is it something you can at least sell to your fan base as good? That may be the case.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.