Recent reports claim that Howard has warmed up to the idea of signing with the Los Angeles Lakers after this season if he is traded.
The Lakers are reportedly ready to make the trade, but first need assurance from Howard that he will commit to the team long-term. Sources say Howard is “excited” about the opportunity to play for the Lakers and will re-sign with the team when his contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 season.
The Lakers, Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly discussing a three-team trade that would send Howard to the Lakers, Andrew Bynum to the Cavaliers, while the Magic would receive Anderson Varejao and multiple draft picks.
It appears that the Lakers are on their way to luring yet another dominant center to southern California without giving up too much.
If traded, D12 will be walking in the footsteps of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and of course Shaquille O'Neal. All three of those centers were acquired via trade to secure championships for this franchise. And with this team, Howard will now repeat what these giants did.
This isn't just a simple swap at center. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year is a different beast than Andrew Bynum, but at this point in his career he's far better suited to get this team over the hump. His defensive presence alone will push the Lakers into a top-10 defense at the very least.
For the past four seasons, the Orlando Magic have been in the top eight in opponents' points per game—despite not having a team with great defenders. Howard alone makes players around him better defensively and he changes opposing teams' game plans whenever he's on the court.
After acquiring Steve Nash, there was some skepticism about this team's capability of returning to the NBA Finals because of Nash's suspect defense. This is a big issue for the Lakers because of the strong point guard play in the Western Conference. However, having Howard in the middle erases Nash's liability on the defensive end.
The cliché that defense wins championships has been beaten to death, but with this defensive ace at center that age old saying never sounded so true.