Los Angeles Lakers: If the Lakers Acquire Dwight Howard, Is Josh Smith Next?
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Orlando Magic have decided that the Los Angeles Lakers and center Andrew Bynum represent their best chance to get equal value for Dwight Howard, and they are exploring different options concerning a deal.
It should come as no surprise that the Magic would be interested dealing with the Lakers since there is no other team who could offer a comparable talent, and the Magic actually get younger in the process.
Orlando would likely require the Lakers to assume the bloated contracts of Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson, but it certainly appears a deal could be on the horizon, especially after the Brooklyn Nets' decision to acquire guard Joe Johnson and his $90 million contract.
The Nets' decision makes it virtually impossible to land Howard via trade, and the only real hope of him playing in Brooklyn would not be realized until the end of the 2012-13 season.
By then, odds say the Lakers could probably convince Howard to make Los Angeles his permanent home, and there is still an outside chance the pot might be sweetened by adding Hawks forward Josh Smith to the roster as well.
Amazingly, CBSsports.com has reported that the Hawks balked at a potential Smith for Gasol trade because the Lakers refused to make the deal unless Atlanta added another major piece.
Well, that other piece may have been forward Marvin Williams, but that option no longer exists since the Hawks traded Williams to Utah shortly after they finished the Johnson deal.
The Lakers were reaching for the stars with their misguided value of the aging Gasol, but they might be a little more receptive to Atlanta's advances now that Howard is once again firmly in play.
If the Lakers do complete a deal for Howard and decide to keep Gasol, they would likely encounter the same issues with spacing in the paint as they did last season, but it would be magnified because Howard's athleticism and mobility allows him to affect every part of the paint.
But Smith's ability to slide to the perimeter and crash the boards with authority is exactly what the Lakers would need to complement a player like Howard.
Smith is more comfortable than Gasol with the ball in his hands 20 feet from the basket, and he has the talent to penetrate off the dribble and finish at the rim.
No soft attacks at the rim from Smith. When he leaves the lane, you know he's been there.
There is still some danger in pursuing Howard since there is no way to know if he has fully recovered from a herniated disk in his back that required surgery. But if he is healthy, how would you explain passing on what might be a once in a life time player?
I'm willing to wager that the Lakers will eventually pull the trigger on a deal that brings Howard to Hollywood, but their path back to the NBA Finals will only be revealed when they make the trade for Smith, which should have been a formality anyway.
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