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It's official: Orlando Magic trades Dwight Howard to Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard was drafted first overall by Orlando in 2004 out of high school in Georgia.

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Dwight Howard was drafted first overall by Orlando in 2004 out of high school in Georgia.

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

"Making some wishes," Howard said.

One of his 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 Magic decided the time was right to start over without the NBA's best center.

Howard is off to play alongside Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles after a megadeal involving the Lakers, Magic, Philadelphia and Denver was completed Friday.

"It was just a very tough situation for everybody to let go," Howard, 26, 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."

As far as the other headliners involved, center Andrew Bynum leaves the Lakers for Philadelphia, and guard/forward Andre Iguodala is heading to Denver.

"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 Olympics, Bryant quickly proclaimed the Lakers are "locked and loaded to bring back the title." He spoke with Howard on Friday morning 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. This should be his, and he should want to accept that challenge."

Howard, who may not be ready for the start of the season while recovering from back surgery, plans to become a free agent in July.

"You talk about all the great centers this team has had," Bryant said. "Now he's the next in line."

After an offseason in which the Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith, it is beginning anew. In 1996 the Magic watched Shaquille O'Neal sign as a free agent with the Lakers. At least this time when they lost someone with the "Superman" nickname, they got something back.

"Next season, and really subsequent seasons, are going to be about getting better every day," Hennigan said.

"The pressure that (Howard) has been feeling in Orlando has just multiplied by three now," O'Neal said. "If he thinks the Orlando Sentinel was on his case when he didn't perform, guys like (Los Angeles Times columnist) Bill Plaschke, they don't play."

Orlando got guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver, forward Moe Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia, 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 Philadelphia.

Orlando also gets five draft picks over five years.

"It makes the NBA that much more exciting," Knicks forward and U.S. Olympian Carmelo Anthony said.

Not everyone shared that sentiment. "I really don't care," Thunder star Kevin Durant said.

The starting lineup for the Lakers, who traded for point guard Steve Nash last month, now includes five former All-Stars with three MVP awards and four defensive player of the year awards.

"Unreal!" Bryant said.

It's official: Orlando Magic trades Dwight Howard to Los Angeles Lakers 08/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 11, 2012 12:11am]
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