Lakers Rumors: Acquiring Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson Makes LA Best in West

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIFebruary 29, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference looks to pass as he is defended by Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic and the Eastern Conference during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If the Los Angeles Lakers can acquire both Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, they would be addressing both their immediate needs and setting up for the future. Peter Vecsey of the New York Times reported the following on the Lakers' trade activities:

They’re determined to acquire a point guard sooner than two weeks from now. If it’s a multi-player transaction, Pau Gasol will be sacrificed.

Should the Magic change their mind about accepting Andrew Bynum for Howard (Pau’s inclusion might do it), Jameer Nelson would almost have to be part of the package unless an above-average ball-handler can be obtained elsewhere.

Not only would the Lakers be in position to win the Western Conference this year, but they'd have to be considered stronger contenders next season as well.

They would have an entire offseason to sign the right complementary players to play with Howard and Kobe Bryant to further strengthen the unit.

Moving forward, past the Bryant era, the Lakers would still have one of the league's best young players on the roster to build around.

That is, assuming Nelson is willing to sign with the Lakers, which is one of the biggest contingency factors of this rumored deal.

If it does happen, the Lakers would be parting with Bynum. This is obviously OK considering they would be receiving Howard in return. Meanwhile, Josh McRoberts is obviously a downgrade at power forward, but the signing of Rasheed Wallace could help to close that gap.

The two don't have to equate to Gasol. With Howard, the 4-spot just needs to defend and compliment the big man in the middle. Indeed, D-12 would change the job description of the power forward in any city.

Nelson is also an immediate upgrade for them at point guard. A starting five of Nelson, Kobe Bryant, Matt Barnes, McRoberts and Howard is the best lineup in the Western Conference.

Yes, even better than Oklahoma City.

Howard gives the Lakers something the Thunder don't have. That is, a dominating inside presence. Kendrick Perkins is a solid interior defender, but even he needs help with Howard. With Bryant on the floor, you have to sacrifice something, and picking your poison against this lineup could be deadly either way.

Defensively, the team is improved, and much more physical with Howard and McRoberts in the paint. Howard is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and McRoberts has no qualms playing the enforcer role.

Obviously, Kobe is Kobe—you know what you get from him—but Nelson would give the Lakers a quality ball-handler and a dependable three-point shooter. While his shooting is down to 30 percent this season, he is a career 39 percent three-point shooter.

It would truly be a revisit to the Kobe and Shaq era, but Howard's work ethic will never be questioned. If Bryant allows himself to embrace the idea, and winning is his first priority, he will realize this is his best-case scenario.

The Lakers must hope that Howard hasn't been scared off by Bryant's less-than-welcoming tone in regards to a potential acquisition of the big man. 

If this deal is proposed, it is probably the best deal the Magic will get for Howard to one of his desired locations. However, if he has been scared off by reports that Bryant doesn't want him, this deal is moot. 

If not, this trade is the best thing that could happen to the Lakers organization.

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