Dwight Howard will not return to L.A. next season as a Laker. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
On Monday, the Lakers let their final asset from the Dwight Howard trade slip away.
The team's $1.2-million trade exception for Christian Eyenga, a throw-in to the Orlando Magic as part of the four-team trade, expired a full year after the initial blockbuster deal.
The Lakers would have been able to acquire a player in trade, making up to $1.3 million (the Eyenga exception, plus the padding of $100,000 allowed by the league), without sending out any players to match salary.
A trade exception can also be used to claim a player off waivers, provided his salary is not more than the allotted exception.
Ultimately, the Eyenga exception was an inconsequential byproduct of the Howard trade. The Lakers never had specific intentions to use it. The team also still owes the Magic a second-round pick in 2015 and a protected first-rounder in 2017 for Howard.
The three players acquired from Orlando have already departed. Howard signed with the Houston Rockets. Earl Clark left as a free agent to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Lakers cut Chris Duhon -- still owing the veteran point guard $1.5 million for the coming season.
Orlando has proved to be the winner of the four-team deal that landed Howard in Los Angeles.
In addition to future draft considerations, the Magic still have two productive players on their roster in return for Howard (Nikola Vucevic and Arron Afflalo).
The Philadelphia 76ers received Andrew Bynum, who missed the entire season with a knee injury and then signed with the Cavaliers in free agency. The Denver Nuggets, as the fourth team in the Howard trade, received Andre Iguodala.
After one season, Iguodala departed via sign and trade to the Golden State Warriors.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.