Dwight Howard to Lakers in 4-team, 12-player deal

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“We’ve gotten bigger, we’ve gotten stronger and we’ve gotten more athletic than we were at this time last year,” 76ers President Rod Thorn said. “Andrew is the best center in the East. Anytime you have the best center, it’s a real plus. This is still a game that big men are very, very important in.”

For the Lakers to get Howard, they needed to give up the All-Star center — Bynum — they’ve nurtured since he was a 17-year-old draft pick.

After two straight second-round exits from the playoffs, the Lakers tore apart a very good team this summer in an attempt to build a great one — a team that can give Bryant, a five-time NBA champion who turns 34 next week, the chance to match Michael Jordan’s six rings next year.

Andrew is a bright, hard-working man who’s going to have a very successful and productive NBA career. And we wish him well in Philadelphia,” Kupchak said.

The Lakers already made one splash in this offseason, getting Steve Nash from Phoenix. So they got better at point guard, and did the same at center. Now the Lakers may have a roster that would rival the NBA champion Miami Heat, Western Conference champ Oklahoma City and the rest of the NBA’s best.

“It’s crazy. It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Howard said. “I’m just happy to be here and I’m going to make the best out of it.”

The Lakers‘ starting lineup now includes five former All-Stars with three MVP awards and four defensive player-of-the-year awards.

“Unreal!” Bryant said.

Denver was thrilled to add Iguodala, who said in turn said he was excited for what’s next.

“It’s not often you get the opportunity to improve your team by adding an All-Star player like Andre Iguodala,” Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. “He’s an Olympian, a great defender and a great all-around player.”

The Magic get a second-round draft pick from Denver next year, a first-round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017. Orlando also will have a $17.8 million trade exception to use over the next year.

Howard averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds in 54 regular-season games for Orlando last season. In eight seasons with the Magic, he averaged 18.4 points and 13.0 rebounds.

He entered last year as the subject of trade rumors, especially since he could have opted out of his deal at season’s end and become a free agent. He decided that he would not exercise that option, then found himself in another mess in April when Van Gundy said team officials told him that Howard wanted him fired.

Howard denied it. Ultimately, it didn’t matter.

Van Gundy’s gone, Smith is gone, and now so is Howard.

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