Howard glad to be in L.A.

Posted: August 11, 2012

Dwight Howard held some of the championship trophies in the Los Angeles Lakers' facility Friday, the first act of the next phase of his NBA career.

"Making some wishes," Howard said.

One of his wishes has finally come true. At long last, he's out of Orlando.

It took four teams, 11 other players, five draft picks, and countless rounds of talks over many months, but the Orlando Magic decided the time was right to start over without the NBA's best center and end a saga that has dogged the franchise for what seems like an eternity.

Howard is off to play alongside Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, after a megadeal involving the Lakers, Magic, 76ers, and Denver was worked out Thursday and completed Friday after the NBA reviewed and approved the particulars.

"It was just a very tough situation for everybody to let go," Howard said. "I'm finally glad that it's over with. Myself and the Magic organization, we can all start over and begin a new career. Today is a fresh new start for all of us."

"Are we taking a step back? Absolutely, we are," Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. "But we're taking a step back with a vision."

Even while otherwise busy at the London Olympics, Bryant quickly proclaimed that the Lakers are "locked and loaded to bring back the title." He spoke with Howard on Friday morning, and interrupted his pursuit of a gold medal to talk about how the Lakers look very much like a major contender for another NBA title.

"I'll probably play two or three more years. Then the team is his," Bryant said. "I'm excited for the franchise because now they have a player that can carry the franchise well after I'm gone."

Howard, who may not be ready for the start of the season while continuing to recover from back surgery that he had performed in Los Angeles four months ago, plans to become a free agent next July.

After an offseason in which the Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, they're now truly beginning anew.

Orlando got guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver, forward Maurice Harkless and center Nik Vucevic from the Sixers, and forward Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga from the Lakers. The Lakers acquired Howard, guard Chris Duhon, and forward Earl Clark from Orlando. The Magic also traded guard Jason Richardson to the Sixers.

Orlando also gets five draft picks over five years.

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