|Did Orlando get the best deal for Dwight Howard? (Getty Images)|
It seemed the consensus reaction to the package Magic general manager Rob Hennigan pulled in his debut move was negative.
In exchange for the best big man in basketball, a true franchise altering piece, Hennigan reeled in Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, rookie Mo Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga, as well as three protected first round picks. And about $20 million in cap space in 2014.
Pretty much everyone said the same thing: That's it? Really? That's all the Magic got for this yearlong nightmare?
Obviously Hennigan had other offers, but it was about choosing the right one. There was the deal with the Nets that would've included Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and some picks. The Hawks were reportedly in the mix with a package. And then of course the Rockets, who weren't shy about their pursuit of Howard.
The Hawks and Nets might've had the most attractive packages, but trading Howard there would mean he'd remain in the East and if the Magic were to return to prominance, they'd have to go through Howard. (Plus, with the Nets' offer you'd have Brook Lopez on a max deal.)
So sending him West seemed to be a priority. To which most saw Houston being able to offer the best deal with a bunch of young assets.
But what did the Houston offer actually look like? Via SI.com, the Rockets were offering two first round picks and only one of their young prospects. Most assumed a Houston deal would include picks Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Royce White. Except according to the report, the Rockets were only offering one, or maybe two, of a pool including Jones, Lamb, White, Donatas Montiejunas, Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris.
Not exactly an overwhelming offer. And really, not better than the deal Hennigan and the Magic accepted.
What you have to remember is two things: 1) Any deal involving Howard going anywhere except Brooklyn wasn't going to include a promise from him to sign long-term there. That dialed back what opposing GMs were willing to offer up. And 2) there are still some lingering questions about Howard's back, meaning he could miss time next season so a rental for Howard could be abbreviated.
So did Hennigan make the right call? It kind of appears so, if these are indeed the offers he had on the table. The Rockets weren't going all out to get Howard as most assumed. And don't ignore the fact that Arron Afflalo is a very good player, with Harkless and Vucevic potentially blossoming into solid ones as well.
It's the reason I gave the Magic a C- after the deal. Considering the circumstances, the Magic came out about as well as they could. But if this really was the competing offer, maybe Hennigan and the Magic deserve more credit than they got. Because there were two options: 1) Keep Howard for a disgruntled season and watch him walk away for nothing or 2) trade him for less than his true value but get something in return. And again: The longer Hennigan waited, the lower Howard's value became.
Unless the Rockets were able to include a third or fourth team as well, their package wasn't as good as the one Orlando received. Hennigan was handcuffed. He had to move Howard somewhere and the sooner he did it, the better the deal would be. He acted on what wasn't a pretty offer, but it might've been the best one.