When I first saw the news of this trade, I was pretty shocked. From my view, it looks really, really bad for Orlando. But, after second thought, I think their GM might be onto something. After the jump...
What Orlando got: Mid-level prospects (Vucevic & Harkless), Late picks (3 mid-to-late 1st's & a 2nd), a solid rotation player (Afflalo), and a future buyout (Harrington). They also moved a bad contract in J-Rich. They also get their clean slate.
Ya, that sounds bad. No blue-chip prospect or top pick. But, then I started to think about how picks are valued in this league. A top 5 pick/unprotected 1st is not something teams are willing to give up. Realistically, Orlando would have been lucky to get one of those out a deal for Dwight. He has one year and appears unwilling to stay where he goes. Further, look at the other teams in this deal...L.A: Bynum for Howard; Philly: Iggy for Bynum; Denver: Afflalo for Iggy... And, they all gave a mid-to-late 1st. So, to get these teams to agree, they had to get something to be interested in the talks.
Now, think of the outlook for Orlando. L.A., Denver & Philly should all make the playoffs next year. Expect L.A. in the top 5 of the league and Denver/Philly in the top 15. So, let's say Orlando gets #20, #25 & #30 (being conservative). Well, they also should finish in the bottom 5, given their terrible roster. With no moves, whatsoever, Orlando puts one potential impact player on the roster and 3 guys who could be role players. Maybe 1 or 2 works out.
The timing of these picks is important. It is easy to stare at the supposed Nets deal and go: "wow, 4 unprotected 1st rounders". But, realistically that is an accumulation of one pick in the 20-30 range for the next 4 years. I wonder if getting 3 picks right now is better in that those players can be developed as role players as you acquire the high-end guys. I think that, too often, our society likes to judge things in a vacuum, without consideration for the big picture implications.
Moving forward, one may expect Orlando to be (really) bad for at least 3 years. Now, in three years, they potentially have their 3 top 5 picks and a pool of late first rounders from the Dwight deal to fill around those guys. Maybe they continue swapping vets (like Afflalo) for more of these late 1st's in the next 2-3 years. Don't know if this is Orlando's plan and I must say, as a Kings fan, I am sick of talking about rebuilding; but, this is an interesting concept. This could actually be the perfect example of a clean break and full rebuild that the Kings failed to implement at the end of their run as playoff contenders. Remember, a true clean break almost inherently looks bad at the moment, that is why it is difficult to agree to from a GM perspective. Might be interesting to see how this plays out for the Magic.