The Los Angeles Lakers head into the offseason with a lot of question marks. After being dismantled by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals, it is decidedly clear that changes need to be made if this team is going to win another ring with this current core.
Outside of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers do not really have any trade assets that would be appealing to any team. In addition, they might even lose Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill to free-agency, two players who played integral roles in the stretch run.
Keeping in mind that Kobe Bryant is going to be 34-years-old heading into next season, Los Angeles should attempt to rent Dwight Howard.
The most obvious trade they could offer is Andrew Bynum straight-up for Dwight Howard—likely the best package the Magic would receive.
Bynum gives the Magic a franchise cornerstone that new GM Rob Hennigan can use to jump-start the rebuilding process in Orlando.
On the other side, Los Angeles still retains Pau Gasol, and also becomes a very enticing destination for veteran free agents.
Lacking a quality starting point guard, the Lakers might even convince Steve Nash to sign because they give him the best chance at winning a title.
A starting five of Nash-Bryant-World Peace-Gasol-Howard would likely vault LA into the top four teams in the league, along with the Thunder, Heat and Bulls (when healthy).
Sessions and Hill might even re-sign, given that this team will be a heavy favorite. With this seven-man rotation, you can definitely make the argument that Los Angeles is the best not only in the West, but the entire league.
Should the Lakers rent Dwight Howard?
The obvious retort to this entire argument is that the Buss family has no intentions of trading Bynum at this time, even after all of the antics and distractions he caused this past year.
Sure, the Lakers are mortgaging their future on Howard and there is a distinct possibility that he may not play in the Staples Center past this season.
However, this current core of players is not winning an NBA title, nor is one where Bynum is the focal point of the team.
He seems far too immature to be the leader of a basketball team and it would be foolish to give him a $90-100 million extension after the way he has behaved this past season.
At the end of the day, by making this trade, the Lakers are giving themselves an opportunity to win a championship next season. Then they can completely rebuild after both Gasol and Bryant's contracts expire in two years.