After months in limbo, the Dwight Howard trade finally happened. According to multiple sources, Howard is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers in a 4-team mega-deal. Details are expected to be finalized today, but the deal appears to be set in stone. What’s this mean for the Warriors? Here are a few thoughts:
-Andrew Bogut just got a lot more valuable. The Warriors had their hands full with Andrew Bynum over the past few seasons, but after acquiring Howard, the Lakers just got even nastier in the middle. Can you imagine Andris Biedrins, rookie Festus Ezeli or (God forbid) David Lee trying to match up with D12 four times a year? I know I’d prefer not to. At least with Bogut, the Warriors have a fighting chance to match up with the Lakers at one position. Of course, now the Warriors won’t be able to say they have the best defensive center in the Western Conference.
-The playoff picture remains unchanged. Even before getting Howard, the Lakers were a playoff lock. With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, LA was already a threat to Oklahoma City for the top spot in the west. Now, the Lakers are more of a threat to the top teams in the conference, but because they were already a playoff team, Howard’s arrival doesn’t necessarily knock the Warriors—or other 4-8 seed hopefuls out of the postseason.
-The Warriors’ need for the state-of-the-art arena in San Francisco just intensified. There are essentially two ways to build a winner in today’s NBA. Oklahoma City is an example of the hard way. They stockpiled high draft picks and nailed them for three straight years. Building from within is the only way to succeed in a small market, and it’s much harder than the big-market alternative. The second way to win, obviously, is to attract bigtime free-agents (or, acquire malcontents like Howard who choose a destination and force themselves out of their current team). The Warriors need their new SF arena to become players in the free-agent market on a large scale. They don’t have the picks or the patience to do it in the style of Oklahoma City. So they’ll need to amp up the glamor and appeal of a fantastic arena in a hip city to attract the big fish down the road.