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Eastern Conference Shake-Up: Four-Team Deal Will Send Dwight Howard To Lakers

At long last, the Dwightmare is over.
At long last, the Dwightmare is over.

According to multiple reports, the Orlando Magic are in the process of finalizing a four-team trade that will send Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets are also involved. The framework of the deal is reportedly in place, with smaller details still being worked out. As currently constructed, each team will receive the following:

Los Angeles Lakers: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark

Orlando Magic: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, protected 1st-round pick from each team

Denver Nuggets: Andre Iguodala, Dorell Wright

Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson, Corey Brewer

The trade is not yet official, as the NBA office will have to approve it, a formality likely to take place Friday morning. Keep in mind that the Commissioner's Office has no power to veto this trade as long as it is legal within the CBA; the proposed trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers back in December was voided by the NBA's joint-ownership of the New Orleans Hornets.

Immediate update: full details of the deal via ESPN

Reports in the last few weeks suggesting that Howard was willing to sign an extension with the Lakers made this move far easier from the Lakers' perspective, who give up a very good center for probably the only other player who could reasonable be called an upgrade.

The Orlando Magic, in exchange, get something resembling peace of mind. While the deal is hardly spectacular given what they are losing, the general consensus is that it is superior to the package offered by the New Jersey Nets earlier this year. Afflalo is a solid young shooting guard, while Vucevic showed potential and is just a year into his rookie contract. Reports suggest the picks Orlando will receive could be protected, but the details remain unclear. In any case, the quality of the teams involved would seem to preclude any lottery possibilities for the Magic.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets and 76ers shake up rosters that were beginning to reek of stagnancy. Philadelphia rolls the dice on a player some think might be better than Howard. If he re-signs, they might have the East's new "best" center. The Nuggets get a versatile swingman in Iguodala to play with rising star Ty Lawson.

The landscape of the Eastern Conference has dramatically shifted yet again with this deal, as the Magic likely revert to full-blown rebuilding mode, while the 76ers make a major move building off last season's momentum. The Lakers now boast a starting lineup that includes Howard, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash.