Lakers Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard Would Vault Los Angeles to Top of West

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives aganst Ian Mahinmi #28 of the Dallas Mavericks during the game at Amway Center on March 30, 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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Dwight Howard's trade saga seems never to end. At this point there are only two plausible options.

The Brooklyn Nets' interest has been gauged for a long time, but the Magic have wisely staved off their pleas.

Howard wants to go to Brooklyn, but Rob Hennigan and the Magic brass know the Nets do not have the parts necessary to make a deal. According to, the Nets would like to send Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and three first-round picks.

That's a ludicrous offering.

There's only one deal that would benefit both sides, and according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, it remains a distinct possibility:

As the Orlando Magic work to unload superstar Dwight Howard, management is becoming increasingly focused on a potential trade package centered on Los Angeles Lakers All-Star center Andrew Bynum, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

This move would help the Magic, but forget them for right now. Bynum would keep them in the Eastern Conference hunt, but the rest of that team isn't going to be ready to win now.

The Lakers are the opposite story.

Moving the 24-year-old Bynum may hurt them down the road, but Los Angeles will be built to win tomorrow. They have a smaller window because of the older nucleus surrounding Howard, but the Lakers are a win-now kind of bunch. Kobe Bryant's window is closing, and newly acquired Steve Nash's time may be shorter.

Trading away the talented but enigmatic Bynum is difficult to conceive for some Lakers fans. He finally realized his tantalizing potential last season and averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Despite Bynum's All-Star season, Howard still outperformed him on both ends of the floor. He averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. He also blocked more shots than Bynum per game (2.1 versus 1.9).

Howard's won NBA Defensive Player of the Year three times for a reason; on that end of the floor, his advantage is obvious. Bynum's offense is more polished, but Howard's dominant physical presence overwhelms opponents down low.

Bynum is two years younger, but he may never reach his peak. He's as moody as he is talented.

That could change as he matures, but, with Howard you know what you're going to get. He became a malcontent in Orlando, but there's no reason to believe he wouldn't be motivated on a stacked Lakers team.

Howard has said that he isn't going to re-sign with anyone except for Brooklyn. According to Wojnarowski, Howard will sign a long-term deal only with the Nets, but this is a chance the Lakers have to take.

Los Angeles would hold the advantage in the Western Conference if they acquire Howard. With him anchoring the middle, Pau Gasol could play as a face-up power forward, Bryant could do what he does and Nash could make the necessary passes.

The pieces to the puzzle would all fit together flawlessly.

The word "potential" gets thrown around a lot. Bynum certainly has it, but Howard has reached his already. He would give the Lakers a definitive presence down low, and they wouldn't have to wonder which version of their center is going to show up (as they had to with Bynum).

Howard will bolster their interior defense and possibly help Bryant win his sixth NBA championship. The Thunder and Spurs have no answer for him in the West, and the Heat are even worse off down low.

The Lakers are the instant favorites to upset the defending champion Heat next season if they acquire Howard.