Once the Los Angeles Lakers had officially pulled off the blockbuster trade to acquire Dwight Howard, the deal sent shockwaves throughout the NBA. As a result, many players and NBA executives had an opinion about the deal and how it’ll impact the Lakers moving forward.
Former Lakers coach and current Miami Heat president Pat Riley talked about the deal with Ira Winderman of SunSentinel.com via Sulia:
Pat Riley, on the Lakers, Dwight, and the new championship races, “Howard is a little more athletic than [previous Lakers center Andrew] Bynum. They definitely have improved their team . . . It’s not an easy job for any team in the West. And it’s not going to be an easy job for us here in the East.”
After acquiring Chris Bosh, LeBron James and re-signing Dwyane Wade in free agency, the Heat had built arguably one of the most talented combinations of superstars that the NBA had ever seen. The three perennial All-Stars coming together in South Beach rocked the league at its core and struck fear in the hearts of GMs all over the NBA.
The Big 3 in Miami immediately became a success as they were able to reach the NBA Finals in their first season together. After a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 in the Finals, LeBron James and company countered by winning the NBA title in 2012 and proving that last season wasn’t a fluke.
Now that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has formed the league’s newest lethal combination of players with Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Howard, Los Angeles will be in the spotlight once again and take the attention off the Heat for at least one season. Riley is probably intimidated and relieved that the Lakers were able to pull off two blockbuster trades this summer with his best players finally taking a backseat to another combination of superstars in the league.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers are looked upon in a negative light for bringing in Howard and Nash to play alongside Kobe in L.A., but the attention and media coverage on the Lakers will most likely rival what the Heat have gone through over the past two years.
After all the off-season moves by Los Angeles this summer, many people are predicting an epic showdown in the 2013 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Heat. It’ll be interesting to see if that ever comes to fruition with Kobe still on the roster.