Lakers Trade Rumors: Rockets' Young Assets Will Make Dwight Howard a Laker

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - DECEMBER 25:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic looks to have a foul called during the NBA season opening game against the Oklahoma City Thunder December 25, 2011 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Oklahoma City defeated Orlando 97-89. 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 Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers' chances of landing Dwight Howard appear to be getting better and better, but not because of the assets at general manager Mitch Kupchak's disposal.

If the franchise has an edge in the sweepstakes, it will only be because the Houston Rockets are in the best position to make the deal happen.

According to Fox Sports' Sam Amico, the Orlando Magic reportedly want the kind of package Houston is best-equipped to assemble:

NBA GM says he wouldn't be surprised if Magic first aim for "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-like trade" with Dwight Howard. By that, GM meant the trade in 1975 when Bucks dealt Kareem (and Walt Wesley) to the Lakers for four players -- Junior Bridgeman, Elmore Smith, Dave Meyers and Brian Winters.

The Rockets have the combination of draft picks and young talent Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan is targeting.

And, in exchange, Houston would take Andrew Bynum from Los Angeles and perhaps an unseemly contract or two from Orlando. It's the kind of deal that could make a lot of sense for all the parties involved.

At first glance, the Rockets don't appear to have the kind of star power one would expect in return for Howard.

However, the Magic don't expect star power. In fact, Hennigan would prefer to avoid these Howard-like headaches in the future by cultivating a roster built on a team concept. That kind of transformation will take some time, and it will also take the right kind of personnel.

That's why more established stars need not apply.

Andrew Bynum might be a nice addition on paper, but he's unlikely to stick around for Orlando's rebuilding process for the long term.

Houston, on the other hand, could offer the Magic a pretty compelling package. 

With three 2012 first-round draft picks to work with, Orlando would walk away with at least one of Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones or Royce White. It could also get its hands on a young center like Omer Asik, a second-year forward like Chandler Parsons and/or Kevin Martin's expiring contract.

Then there would be draft picks, including a pretty valuable first-rounder the Rockets acquired from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for point guard Kyle Lowry.

Houston general manager Daryl Morey has been stockpiling these kind of assets, and the Lakers may have to thank them for it—or, least least send them Andrew Bynum.

Bynum has served Los Angeles well, and he may yet prove to be the league's best center over the long haul.

From the Lakers' perspective, however, there's little doubt that Howard's mobility, athleticism and defensive dominance would go a long way in restoring the franchise to title contention.

Additions like Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison will help, but they won't improve a defense ranked 15th in the league last season.

Dwight Howard would.