Los Angeles Lakers: Are Deron Williams and Dwight Howard Realistic Targets?

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Los Angeles Lakers: Are Deron Williams and Dwight Howard Realistic Targets?
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Most fans of the Los Angeles Lakers would agree that the player most likely to be dealt before the 2012-2013 regular season commences is forward Pau Gasol.

If that is true, what should the Lakers expect in return for one of the top five power forwards in the NBA?

Gasol's 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 50 percent field goal average during the 2011-2012 season certainly suggests he deserves that designation. While the Lakers may not get an equal return for Gasol, they should definitely try.

As a matter of fact, the Lakers history suggests it's in their championship nature.

When Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss decided to trade for center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and draft point guard Magic Johnson, in signing him to an unheard of $25 million, 25-year contract, Buss initiated the blueprint for the team's 10 NBA titles since 1980.

During that span, the Lakers made a league-best 16 trips to the NBA Finals. Every one of those teams had a roster built on the concept that cost was a secondary concern compared to sustained relevance.

The Lakers' last seven Finals appearances alone were due to the ability of the franchise to lure Shaquille O'Neal to Los Angeles, force the Charlotte Hornets to deal Kobe Bryant and spirit Gasol away from Memphis.

Buss' willingness to spend money in order to compete for championships has arguably been the most proven method of success in the NBA. This makes it logical to think that any deal for Gasol would likely net the Lakers a player like Deron Williams or Dwight Howard in return.

However, the NBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement seems to be designed to prevent free-spending teams, like the Lakers, from simply being able to purchase the best roster in basketball—if you believe the hype.

It's true that the Lakers will face greater penalties if their payroll continues to exceed the parameters of the NBA's salary cap scale, but if there is any team or owner who would be willing to toe the line, it's the Lakers and Buss.

The NBA's tougher salary cap penalties were created to prevent teams from buying championships, but they don't reduce the value or constant stream of revenue for the franchise.

It's no secret the Lakers recently inked a multi-billion dollar television deal with Time Warner, and they continue to be one of the league's most popular and profitable franchises.

It's not a stretch to think Buss might flirt with breaking the salary cap boundary.

It's a matter of whether or not Buss chooses to reach a little deeper into his sizable fortune to keep the Lakers relevant.

It should be noted that if the Lakers do decide to deal Gasol, it erases nearly $20 million from their salary cap figure next season.

But, are they willing to replace that number with another one that is similar?

Lakers fans are often criticized for their sense of entitlement, but that's what 30 playoff appearances in the last 32 years will do to people.

Buss has created an environment where success is expected, and he has done this despite various attempts from the NBA to curb his influence and money.

Theories that the Lakers will somehow find a way to sign a player like Williams or Howard are not built on wishful thinking, but are cemented in fact.

Maybe the league's new anti-Lakers policies will finally destroy the house Buss has built but, judging by the team's history, are you ready to bet against them?

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