Brian Kamenetzky of ESPN LA on where things stand now: “If the Lakers were on the cusp of contention in the Western Conference after the Nash deal — very competitive but still a tick below Miami and Oklahoma City — they’re now at worst in the center (no pun intended) of the conversation and at best could lead it. Assuming Howard recovers well from the back surgery from which he’s currently rehabbing — and I don’t think the Lakers would have pulled the trigger without doing their due diligence — the Lakers have added a top-five player and the most dominant defensive force in the NBA to a lineup already including Nash, Gasol and, of course, Kobe Bryant.”
Arash Markazi of ESPN LA: “And for those of you in Oklahoma City, the Lakers are not looking past Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s five-game dismantling of the Lakers in the playoffs this season on the heels of their being swept out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks last year was the wake-up call this team needed to realize it could not continue and contend maintaining the status quo. When Oklahoma City eliminated the Lakers from the playoffs in May, Bryant smiled when he was asked about the Lakers’ future. Despite a second straight ouster in the second round and adjusting to a new locker room without two of his closest confidants in Odom and Fisher, Bryant wasn’t ready to quietly ride off into the sunset.”
John Hollinger of ESPN.com: “Holy hell, it’s good to be the Lakers. After somehow parlaying a pile of backyard trash into Steve Nash, they now have converted the very good Andrew Bynum into the absolutely dominant Dwight Howard. As reported, they somehow didn’t have to give up Gasol, or even take back any bad contracts. But I’m sure they’re crying a river over the 2017 first-round pick they had to give up. You’ll excuse the Spurs and Thunder for feeling like they’re playing a game that’s rigged against them.”
Bill Simmons: “Remember when everyone was saying, “A year from now, OKC will just amnesty Perkins so they can pay Ibaka and Harden?” Not so fast! Getting rid of Howard’s Personal Kryptonite when Howard is suddenly playing for your biggest conference rival isn’t the best career move. (And you thought Miami’s shift to small ball had rendered the Perkins Era obsolete … )”
Tom Ziller of SB Nation: “He didn’t create the toxic situation in which Howard basically had to be traded by the February deadline, but this result is pretty near the bottom of the barrel. More than anything, it’s proof that it’s better to trade your stars as soon as it becomes apparent that they will eventually need to be traded. I say we call it the O’Connor Theory, in honor of the Jazz’s Kevin O’Connor, who brilliantly if dangerously jettisoned Deron Williams as soon as it became apparent that the point guard would at the very least flirt with big markets when free agency arrived. The Jazz got an awesome package for Williams, including actual lottery picks and a brilliant prospect in Derrick Favors.”
Everyone is ripping on Rob Hennigan, but according to one writer, this wasn’t his trade.
Kelly Dwyer of BDL: “You’re just fine to judge Dwight Howard from afar. I don’t know how you or I or any other fan is supposed to handle the Los Angeles Lakers right now. They did what was right. They acquired, by far, the best player in this deal. They turned Kwame Brown (and, er, an eventual All-Star center), a mid-lottery draft pick in the crummy 2005 draft, and Lamar Odom’s 2011-12 “season” into Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash. The team that is a year removed from firing most of its scouting department in a money-saving maneuver is now a healthy season and sound bit of coaching away from threatening 70 wins in an NBA season. You’re OK to think this isn’t fair.”
First Lakers-Thunder game is Dec. 7 on a Friday night in OKC. That should be fun.
Chris Mannix of SI.com: “Howard-to-Lakers pretty much removes any possibility of the Thunder amnestying Kendrick Perkins to free up some cash. Need him now.”
Small stupid story: A friend of mine writes “Russ” on all of his golf balls. Why? Because when it does something good he says, “Yeah Russ!” but when it does something bad he says, “Freaking stupid Russ!” I thought that was pretty appropriate.