The All-Star center was traded Friday to the Los Angeles Lakers, the last act of his long, drawn-out departure from the Magic. It took four teams, 12 players, five draft picks and countless rounds of talks with different clubs to get done, but it finally was completed Friday after the NBA reviewed and approved the deal.
So after an offseason where the Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, now they're truly beginning anew. Howard is gone as well, the second time the franchise has lost a big-man star to the Lakers.
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.
"Well, it looks like Superman has found a home," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant wrote on his Facebook page.
A lot of players found new homes, including Andrew Bynum, sent by the Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers sent Andre Iguodala -- part of the U.S. Olympic team, set to play a semifinal game at the London Games on Friday -- to the Denver Nuggets.
"I know my best basketball is ahead of me," Iguodala wrote on Twitter.
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 got 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.
"A primary goal for our basketball team is to achieve sustainability while maintaining a long-term vision. We feel this deal puts us in a position to begin building in that direction," Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. "In addition to the six players joining our team, we will be in a position to maximize our salary cap flexibility in the near future, as well as utilize the multiple draft picks we have acquired going forward."
The Lakers pulled off the deal and somehow kept Pau Gasol in the process -- something many didn't expect when the Lakers first started getting mentioned in the Howard trade mix.
"We'd like to thank Andrew for all he's done for the team and the organization," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "Andrew has been with us since we drafted him at 17 years old and over the last seven years we have watched him develop into an All-Star player who has helped the team win two NBA championships. He's a special talent with a bright future."
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.
Howard entered last season 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 firestorm in April when Van Gundy said Howard wanted him fired.
Howard denied it. Ultimately, it didn't matter. Van Gundy's gone, Smith is gone, and now so is Howard.
He scored 20 points and grabbed 22 rebounds against Philadelphia on April 7, despite playing through what he said was severe back pain. He went to Los Angeles for diagnosis and surgery, and it was announced that he would miss both the rest of the Orlando season and the London Olympics.
Maybe it was fitting that the surgery was in Los Angeles. It's been Howard's home base ever since, and now it's where he'll work.
Howard had asked for a trade to Brooklyn. Despite several scenarios being discussed, Orlando failed to work out a deal with the Nets, but remained determined to move their disgruntled big man.
"I wish nothing but the best for Big Bynum," Bryant wrote. "I hope he follows what was a great season last year with an even better one next year. I know LA is excited about the deal and rightfully so. The Lakers landed a piece that will hopefully carry the franchise long after I'm gone. I have spoken to Dwight Howard already and we are locked and loaded to bring back the title."