Is Dwight Howard Final Piece to Lakers Puzzle after Steve Nash Sign-and-Trade?

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIJuly 5, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives on Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the third quarter of Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena 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

The Los Angeles Lakers filled their greatest positional need on Wednesday, honoring the Fourth of July with an explosive announcement of their own. While many had speculated the Lakers would take a low-cost point guard whom they could sign to a Mid-Level Exception, L.A. shocked the world when they acquired superstar Steve Nash (via ESPN).

Showtime could be on the return.

The question is, what's next for the Los Angeles Lakers? Are they actually built to win the NBA title? Or is Nash simply another addition that will keep them within the top four of the NBA but outside of legitimacy?

Regardless of which answer you choose, there's a speculative possibility that all will consider.

The potential for a Dwight Howard trade has been a looming possibility since this time last season. The Los Angeles Lakers are as ambiguous with their support for Andrew Bynum as D-12 is for the Orlando Magic, leaving one to believe that a deal could be struck. Considering Steve Nash is now running the point, the likelihood that Howard's interest has risen is very strong.

The question is, do the Lakers really need Dwight Howard?

While the All-Star center has undeniable talent, the answer is no. Andrew Bynum has proven to be a more skilled offensive player than Howard and happens to be two years younger than D-12. While Bynum is far less athletic and not quite the imposing defensive asset than Howard may be, we've all seen what he's capable of when focused.

Due to this fact, the potential trade comes down to one of two things: do you believe Dwight Howard is more likely to re-sign or is Andrew Bynum more likely to mature? I'd take a gamble on the latter.

When Bynum is focused on the defensive end, he's an impenetrable force that can lead the Lakers to victory. He's also a very talented finisher around the basket whose ability to score from the post is far superior to that of Dwight Howard. While he's not necessarily the caliber offensive rebounder from a statistical standpoint, the Lakers have long preached getting back on defense before you crash the offensive glass.

With Steve Nash on the roster, all of that could change. It could also draw an elevated level of interest from D-12, however, as Alex Kennedy of speculates.

Dwight Howard asked the Magic to pursue Steve Nash in February. With Nash, will Howard give the Lakers a long-term commitment? We'll see.

— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 5, 2012

While the addition of Howard would certainly improve the star power of the team, it would not improve the quality.

Andrew Bynum is a more polished player than Dwight Howard on the offensive end. He also has the potential to be an equally as dominant player on defense as his fundamentals are parallel to Dwight Howard's athleticism.

The Los Angeles Lakers are in need of some extra pieces for a deep postseason. Dwight Howard just isn't one of them.