The trade is processed, the so-called “Dwight-mare” is over and basketball fans can finally look ahead after all the drama revolving around the former Orlando Magic center has been sorted out.
What those fans may see, however, is a very dangerous Lakers team that appears poised to return to the pinnacle of the NBA mountain.
Along with Howard, L.A. now can trot out a lineup consisting of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace. They may have their question marks as far as a bench is concerned, but that top five makes the Lakers a serious threat. Will it be enough to overthrow the Heat?
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh haven’t gone anywhere this offseason, but they do have their own offseason addition to match up with the ones L.A. has made. Ray Allen will be suiting up with the defending NBA champs in 2012 as well, meaning that Miami is certainly going to be a favorite when it comes to their chances at defending its title.
The new-look Boston Celtics might have something to say about that, however. Without Avery Bradley, the C’s pushed Miami to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, and while losing Allen is a blow, the additions of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee should help keep Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the championship conversation.
Then again, the 2011-12 runner-up Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t going anywhere, and another year of seasoning will only make Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that much more dangerous.