5 Los Angeles Lakers Trades That Don't Involve Dwight Howard

Joel C. Cordes@@bballJoelNBA Associate EditorFebruary 5, 2012

So what happens if the Los Angeles Lakers don’t actually get Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic this season? Bleacher Report’s Joel C. Cordes has five “Plan B” options to resurrect a season of decay in L.A.

With the Lakers unable to generate enough offensive spark, the finger-pointing has gone in many directions:

“The Lakers need more shooters and slashers around their big men.”

“The Lakers need a true point guard who can create easy baskets for Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and (especially!) Kobe Bryant.”

“Kobe needs to stop shooting so much and give the ball to Bynum and Gasol.”

Acquiring Dwight Howard has been the obvious answer because it’s the easiest one.

Yes, it might give Los Angeles the dose of excitement they’re lacking, but a one for one trade of Bynum (or desperately throwing in Gasol too) is really just one step up and five steps lateral.

There has to be something better.

Sports talk radio wisdom holds that Kobe is the franchise, Bynum the future and Gasol the weak link. Thus, without attractive assets elsewhere, the Lakers must move Gasol at best and Bynum at worst to find a strong point guard who can score.

Actually, the Lakers don’t necessarily need a traditional distributor. Their point guards don’t (and never have) facilitated the offense on a full time basis during the Kobe Bryant era.

Before he became a cadaver, Derek Fisher worked well with Bryant because he DIDN’T need the ball in his hands for long stretches. Instead, he could knock down the open long ball when Kobe or the bigs created space against collapsing defenses.

If the Lakers need a point guard to pair with Bryant, this player needs to be a pass first guy, but one who also plays well off the ball and can shoot.

The complicated part is that if Los Angeles trades Bynum or Gasol, this will likely address their point and wing problems, but then create a need to replace the departed big man. The Lakers have had enough trouble finding suitable replacements amongst the backup front line already.

So what’s left? Trade Kobe?

At this career stage, Bryant seemingly means far more to the Lakers in uniform than they could get in return anyway.

“But Kobe is a top-three player and anyone would trade for him!”

Would Kobe play for a rebuilding franchise?

Would a young contender trade away its clear future to gamble that Kobe would bring a ring today? Do they take a guy who’s getting paid over $25 million per year on a contract that doesn’t end until he’s 37?

Would a veteran contending team have enough assets to acquire Bryant on the stretch run and actually improve? Would they add a life-long alpha dog to their established hierarchy?

Would the Lakers ever recover from trading one of their franchise deities away? (Remember, the Lakers trade FOR Hall of Famers, they DON’T trade them away.)

It’s just awfully difficult to find a trade that bolsters the roster enough in one area without catastrophically detracting from another.

There’s a reason why we haven’t seen any Laker deals to this point.

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