Months of speculation and false starts, the Orlando Magic have finally traded the face of their franchise, center Dwight Howard. In what will end up being a four-team deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, this finally signifies the end of the Brooklyn Nets "Dwightmare".
Howard has said -- like Deron Williams last season with the Nets -- he will play out the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Hitting free agency is the only sensible outcome for Howard because he gains no financial advantage to lock into a long-term deal now.
However, don't take his foray into free agency as reason to believe he could still end up in Brooklyn. The only way Howard can join Williams in Brooklyn is with the mid-level exception next summer, something that has about as much chance as happening as you winning Powerball this weekend.
With this trade, Howard's suitors are now limited to the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. After spending a season playing in Los Angeles, he can decide if leaving for a max deal in Dallas is worth the $30 million he'll have to leave on the table to leave the Lakers.
[Related: Full coverage of the 'Dwightmare']
Coming out of the "Dwightmare" without the star at the center of the show certainly doesn't mean the Nets are losers here. Nets GM Billy King was able to give Brooklyn a core of Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace.
The Magic, on the other hand, will be rebuilding without a single star on their roster and playing in front of an empty arena for the next three seasons while they hope to stumble on another franchise player. Then they need to hope he doesn't bolt the way other have before him.
One of those players is unlikely to come from the picks the Magic get back in this trade, since they will be protected and won't even be delivered until 2014, 2015 and 2017, respectively.
Every team would love to have a player the caliber of Howard, but now the Nets can finally move forward without this cloud hanging over them again in January. This chapter is closed and it's a pleasure to say goodbye to the "Dwightmare" and...
Dwight Howard Traded to Lakers In Four-Team Blockbuster Deal (via sbnation)