Late Thursday night, news broke that the Orlando Magic had finally agreed to trade center Dwight Howard, potentially ending nearly a year of speculation and rumors about where the three-time Defensive Player of the Year would end up.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, of Yahoo! Sports, Howard is heading to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade, also involving the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets.
For giving up Howard, the Magic will receive Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, rookie swingman Moe Harkless, three first-round draft picks and a 2013 second-round pick from the Nuggets, according to Wojnarowski. The Nuggets will pick up Andre Iguodala from Philly and the 76ers will receive all-star center Andrew Bynum, who had a breakout season last year and is thought by many to be the second best center in the league.
Last year the 76ers surprised many by making the playoffs with a young roster. They continued to impress when they upset the No. 1-seeded Chicago Bulls in the opening round of the playoffs. The Bulls were without star point guard Derrick Rose, though. The 76ers then took the Boston Celtics to seven games in the second round.
While much of the focus on the trade has centered around what it does for the Lakers and Magic, the 76ers getting Bynum could help them jump high up in the Eastern Conference standings this year. After the NBA champion Miami Heat, the east looks fairly open, as the Bulls are still without Rose, the Magic lost their best player, the Indiana Pacers still have a young roster and Atlanta Hawks saw a big roster overhaul.
In the Atlantic Division, so much attention this offseason has gone to the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, but both teams saw a lot of roster changes this offseason, while the Boston Celtics are still aging. The Toronto Raptors still look like a non-playoff team. With Bynum, the 76ers could conceivably vault themselves to the No. 2 or 3 seed in the East.
So, how does the Dwight Howard trade alter the Atlantic Division?