The Lakers have done it again! There is absolutely, unequivocally no denying that the Los Angeles Lakers have a nose for the blockbuster. Here’s the deal as far as we know right now:
Lakers Acquire: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon & Earl Clark
Nuggets Acquire: Andre Iguodala
Sixers Acquire: Andrew Bynum & Jason Richardson
Magic Acquire: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic & Moe Harkless as well as a protected 1st round draft pick from the Lakers, Nuggets, and Sixers.
The Lakers are always doing what they need to do to Win Now, whether it be acquiring Pau Gasol or picking up the defensive beast that is Dwight Howard (pending league approval… no nonsense this time Mr. Stern). That is one of the reasons being a Laker fan is so often more rewarding than being a fan of any other team.
More than anything, this trade reinforces what we already knew to be true, and that’s that the bright lights and the big cities attract stars. Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Chicago are the hot spot destinations for Superstar athletes and nothing will ever change that. The best you can hope to do is gambit and circumvent the system, the blueprint for which was perfected by the best damn Front Office in professional sports today, the San Antonio Spurs.
When it comes to blockbuster deals, the Los Angeles Lakers are definitely king, but when it comes to consistently drafting and picking up high quality complimentary pieces to build championship squads, San Antonio created the blueprint and built their own kingdom. They seem to always find gems late in the draft to compliment their big guy in the middle, Tim Duncan (who they tanked specifically to build around). They are thorough, they are professional, they are meticulous, and if you’re a team not located in LA, Miami, Boston, New York or Chicago, they are the team you need to emulate to be successful in the NBA.
To simplify things, you need to first accept that you’re organization is not in a première destination city, and that acquiring one of the league’s top talents via trade or free agency would be like stealing Zeus’ Thunder from Mount Olympus… not impossible, but you’ll probably die trying. Without the bright lights and glamour necessary to attract the biggest of big names, you have no other choice but to build through the draft and by acquiring high quality, high character pieces to make up your squad.
All that said, the key to being a championship level small market team requires a little luck, and a lot of losing. To contend for a title in a small market, you need to draft your Tim Duncan; a superstar talent, with the drive and competitiveness to propel a good team to greatness, without the superstar ego that is drawn to the siren song of the Large Market Cities. If you’re a small market team, you need to do whatever you can to get a humble and ultra-talented centerpiece for your squad.
OKC got their “Tim Duncan” when they drafted Kevin Durant. They then built a solid team around him through the draft, and by acquiring key complimentary pieces to put them over the top. The way Sam Presti assembled the OKC Thunder resembles the San Antonio model, which is no surprise seeing as he was a San Antonio guy before getting the General Manager gig in with the Thunder.
Another team that I believe found their “Tim Duncan” is the New Orleans Hornets, who lucked into getting Anthony Davis, one of the NBA’s brightest young talents, with humility to match his immense capability. He will be a difference maker for New Orleans, and I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the siren song of the Large Market will fall upon deaf ears when it comes to this future superstar, which is one of the many reasons people playing New Orleans will “Fear The Brow” for years to come.
This Dwight Howard deal seems to have made everyone but Orlando better. Its weird because, they easily had the most valuable body in the deal to begin with, and made off with little more than a loot bag you’d expect receive at a children’s birthday party. The Sixers add the second best Center in the league, as well as the sharp shooting Jason Richardson, which makes them a force in the East; the Nuggets upgrade their wing by getting Mr. Do-It-All Andre Iguodala, and the Lakers made off with the big prize, Dwight Howard.
The Orlando Magic are trying to emulate the Spurs and OKC, with the hiring of 30-year-old Rob Hennigan as their General Manager (a Spurs/OKC guy). This move doesn’t seem like a big win for them, but with a publicly disgruntled Superstar with a short list of teams he is willing to sign long term with, Orlando’s hands were tied. They got the worst of this deal, chances are, they are going to be awful this upcoming NBA Season. Thus is the nature of the league; If you’re not in Miami, NY, LA, Boston, or Chicago, you need to be really bad to get really good. Here’s to hoping that they find their “Tim Duncan” in the 2013 NBA Draft.