So Dwight Howard to the Lakers, eh? It may only last a year (Dwight will still enter free agency next summer), but the Lakers pull off a coup, landing the league's best center to go with arguably the league's best-passing point guard and its most dominant shooting guard of the past decade, who still has enough in the tank to make it interesting.
And, oh by the way: The Lakers are apparently also keeping Pau Gasol. That's a Big Four if you're keeping track. A very Big Four. Arguably the most talented foursome since Jordan-Pippen-Rodman-Whoever, if not Magic-Worthy-Kareem-Whoever and Bird-McHale-Parish-Whoever. The point is: It's an incredible group.
The Lakers' Big Four is every bit as good as Miami's Big Three -- better, if you consider the balance and extra star; slightly worse, if you consider LeBron to be the most dominant force in the NBA, whether you paired him with Wade and Bosh or 6-year-old Gabe and 3-year-old Jonah Shanoff. And the Lakers' Big Four is better than the Thunder's Big Three.
It is nothing short of gobsmacking that the Lakers would be able to land Howard without having to give up Gasol. And all of a sudden, the Lakers are the team to beat in the NBA next season -- a short run for the Heat dynasty.
More pieces from the deal:
*Sixers get Bynum: Love this risk. Bynum is the best center in the East, moving within an hour of where he grew up and will be treated like the franchise cornerstone he has always wanted to be. When you have the chance to get a year to recruit a top-tier free agent like Bynum, you do it.
*Nuggets get Andre Iguodala: Arron Afflalo is an underrated player -- savvy on offense, hard-working on D. He has a reasonable contract (albeit one lasting a bunch of more years). But Iguodala is arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA. You're not doing anything in the West if you can't lock down either Durant or Harden when you play OKC -- Iguodala can defend either/both. His deal also expires after the '14 season.
*Magic get...: Well, they get Afflalo, who is solid, if not spectacular. They get Nikola Vucevic who is a bruiser, but no one that Sixers fans will miss. They get Al Harrington, who shoots a lot. And they get Moe Harkless, who has some potential, but that's about it. (And with Harrington on the team, good luck with getting shots.) And they get a bunch of really mediocre draft picks, because the Sixers, Nuggets and Lakers won't be Lottery teams. Is this really the best Orlando could do? Was this better than Houston's offer? Was this better than Brooklyn's offer?
*Usain Bolt wins 200: Again. Along with his 100 gold, following up his double gold in the 100 and 200 in 2008. Does nothing to change the idea that he is the greatest sprinter of all time. If he wants to crow about it a bit -- or dump on Carl Lewis? He's earned it. It might not be your cup of tea, but you can't say he hasn't earned the right to say whatever he wants.
*US women's soccer win gold: An unstoppable team, with no signs of slowing down. The "revenge factor" against Japan is precisely what they needed to stay sharp. That and Carli Lloyd.
*US goes gold-silver in the decathlon: Remember when Bruce Jenner was the king of the U.S., Wheaties box, etc? Now, you'd be hard-pressed to find fans who could name both guys who went 1-2. But still: An amazing accomplishment a half-century in the making.
*NFL Preseason starts in earnest: Peyton's body didn't fall apart, so that's a win.... RG3 looked terrific, which was awesome to see... and don't miss Steelers rookie Chris Rainey (a favorite of mine when he was at Florida) with a zip-zoom-to-the-moon TD run.