Over the past several weeks there have been rumors linking Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and countless other teams as well. The Los Angeles Lakers have been a dark-horse candidate throughout this saga, but a report suggest they could now be in the driver's seat.
According to David Pingalore, who is the sports director for WKMG Local 6 news station in Orlando, his sources are reporting that the Lakers are the clear front runners for Howard's services and that all of the other rumored destinations have simply been "smokescreens" sent out by D12 and his camp.
This, of course, is an unsubstantiated rumor, as none of the supposed sources have been named, but Howard to the Lakers obviously makes a lot of sense. Los Angeles is loading up for a run at another championship after disappointing, second-round playoff losses the past two seasons. L.A. went out and got future-Hall-of-Fame point guard Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade deal, and nabbing Howard could be the cherry on top of a very impressive offseason.
Howard has continually expressed his desire to be traded to the Nets, but since the Magic couldn't come to an agreement with Brooklyn, Howard's preferred team had to move on. The Nets were in danger of losing center Brook Lopez if the Charlotte Bobcats signed him to a lucrative offer sheet, so they decided to re-sign him and essentially kill any notion of a Howard deal since Lopez can't be traded until Jan. 15.
According to Pingalore, one source said "some crossing of T's and dotting of I's is only left" with regards to shipping Howard out west. If that is the case, then all parties involved have certainly done a nice job of keeping negotiations quiet.
Neither Pingalore nor his supposed sources speculated on what would be going back the other way in the potential trade, but it's safe to assume that center Andrew Bynum would be the centerpiece. Bynum can't compare to Howard, but there isn't another center in the league who comes close to the Magic star. Bynum is younger, though, and would be a great replacement from Orlando' perspective.
Bynum is only 24 years old, he's a two-time NBA Champion and he is coming off an All-Star season in which he averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. There are constant injury concerns when it comes to Bynum, but when he is healthy you could make a case that he is the second-best center in the league.
Howard is coming off a back injury, and it is unknown whether he will be ready for the start of next season. Also, this is the final year of his contract, and he has constantly said that he would only re-sign with the Nets. Those factors make dealing for Howard a big risk for Los Angeles, but putting him with Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol would likely make the Lakers the favorites to win the NBA Championship this coming season.
Until this report is confirmed by other outlets, it is probably hearsay at best. Conventional wisdom says that dealing Howard for Bynum is the best possible move for the Magic, though, so it wouldn't shock me in the least if this trade were to ultimately happen.
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