LONDON — At long last, Dwight Howard got what he wanted.
So did the Orlando Magic. A new beginning for both awaits.
It took four teams, 11 other players, five draft picks and countless rounds of talks over many months, but finally, the Magic decided the time was right to start over without the NBA's best center and end a saga that has dogged the franchise for what seems like an eternity.
Howard is off to play alongside Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, after a megadeal was worked out Thursday and completed Friday after the NBA reviewed and approved the particulars.
"It was just a very tough situation for everybody to let go," Howard 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. Today is a fresh new start for all of us."
As far as the other headliners involved, Andrew Bynum leaves the Lakers for Philadelphia and 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 London Olympics, Bryant quickly proclaimed that the Lakers are "locked and loaded to bring back the title."
"I told him this is a great place for him," said Bryant, who talked to Howard on Friday morning. "You talk about all the great centers this team has had. Now he's the next in line."
Bryant said the Lakers should be poised to win now. The Magic, they might not be saying that for years.
After an offseason when the Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, they're now truly 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.
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.
"There will be no panic," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "There will be no chaos."
The Lakers pulled off the deal and somehow kept Pau Gasol in the process — something many didn't expect when the Los Angeles first started getting mentioned in the Howard trade mix.
"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 trade was announced during the Spain-Russia semifinal matchup at the Olympics. Gasol scored 16 points, helping the Spanish team reach the gold medal game with a 67-59 win.
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