L.A. Lakers: Is Gasol for Smith the Best Move If Lakers Land Howard?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJuly 23, 2012

ATLANTA - MAY 10:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic against Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Most Los Angeles Lakers fans would agree the team has enjoyed a fairly successful summer after signing point guard Steve Nash to a three-year deal, re-signing reserve forward Jordan Hill and adding scoring from the bench in forward Antawn Jamison.

But there is a sense that the Lakers may not be done dealing, and there is a growing feeling of inevitability that the biggest prize of the summer will join the Lakers roster in a matter of days.

The speculation surrounding Orlando center Dwight Howard has been a topic of discussion for the better part of one year, but lately the Lakers are the only team that seems to be in serious contention for landing his services.

That may be because Howard has given no indication that he will sign a long-term extension if traded, which actually helps the Lakers by narrowing the list of teams that are willing to risk the future of its franchise on what could be just one season for Howard.

The Lakers have no such misgivings about Howard since they have their own free-agent situation to resolve with center Andrew Bynum, and management seems convinced that the Hollywood atmosphere and opportunity to play with a championship-caliber roster might convince Howard to stay.

Or if the Lakers do complete a deal for Howard, they could further solidify their chances of signing Howard long term by seeking to renew talks with the Atlanta Hawks concerning a Pau Gasol for Josh Smith swap.

According to CBSSports.com, the only reason the Lakers and Hawks did not complete a deal for Gasol and Smith earlier is because of the unreasonable asking terms on the Lakers' part.

Do you think the Lakers would revise their asking price for Gasol if it might directly affect their ability to extend Howard?

Howard and Smith both grew up in the Atlanta area playing on the AAU circuit and they remain close friends, which could be an important piece of information going forward for the Lakers.

In fact, trading Gasol for Smith would also benefit the Lakers financially when it comes to extending Howard since Smith makes nearly $7 million less than Gasol, and I'm sure the Lakers could lock Smith up long term for a much cheaper rate than they pay Gasol.

Adding Howard and then Smith would also instantly give the Lakers one of the NBA's best defensive front lines, as well as one of the most athletic. When you throw in Smith's ability to run the floor with Steve Nash, the offensive opportunities are endless.

A lineup of Nash, Kobe Bryant, Howard and Smith would be one of the most feared in the NBA on both ends of the floor and while it may seem ridiculous to think it could happen, the Lakers might be a Howard signing away from making it happen.

There were few people who saw the Nash deal coming, and while talks for Howard have been front and center, the Smith deal is actually one that the Lakers should have made long ago.

It's not too late for Los Angeles to re-visit their Gasol for Smith scenario, and it may be in its best interest if it harbors any hopes of signing Howard long term, provided the Lakers can secure him.