ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 19: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic receives his Defensive Player of the Year award just before the start of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks on April 19, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
The four-team deal to send Dwight Howard to the Lakers will affect the Hawks in a couple of different ways but the reality is it doesn't change all that much for the team.
First and foremost the Hawks will only have to deal with Howard twice a season and it pretty much knocks Orlando out of the southeast division race. The Hawks will still have the Heat and the new look Wizards to contend with there but those Miami-Orlando back-to-backs look far less intimidating now.
The only downside to shipping Howard out west is that the deal brings Andrew Bynum east to Philadelphia which is a young team on the rise and this further cements that. Still given their late season slide last season and Bynum's rather questionable attitude at times, they will have to prove they can make it all work. Especially given that they traded essentially their leader in Andre Iguodala away to get Bynum. Don't get me wrong, it is a deal that I think you have to make if you are the Sixers but lets see how it works.
As far as the pursuit of Dwight Howard in free agency this changes nothing with the Hawks. Howard will not sign an extension with the Lakers before becoming a free agent. The Hawks will in all likelihood be one of the teams that are waiting at his door when free agency opens with a max offer. What has changed is that the Lakers are now the team that can offer Dwight the most money.
It was a longshot that the Hawks will ever have a shot to land Howard in the first place but should the LA experience not work out, then Atlanta would be one of the teams capable of offering him a max deal. From that standpoint nothing has changed. Its hard to imagine the LA situation not working out given that they have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol but no one really thought this situation with Orlando would drag out this long either. If you are the Hawks then you plan on pursuing him until he re-signs with the Lakers. From that standpoint nothing has changed.