NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers More Likely to Land Dwight Howard If Deal Happens Soon

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives on Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the third quarter of Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As much as the Orlando Magic would like to see a resolution to Dwight Howard's never-ending search for a new home, Los Angeles Lakers fans may be just as eager.

Waiting and wondering which superstar center you get to cheer on this season can't be easy.

All that waiting and wondering just might be coming to an end if you believe what Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico is hearing:

With Dwight Howard reiterating his wish to be traded, multiple league sources predict  the Orlando Magic will again step up efforts to find their All-Star center a new team. 

Several of those sources told FOX Sports Ohio on Saturday they believe Howard could be traded by the end of next week.

If those sources are indeed correct, that could be very good news for the Lakers.

We know the Orlando Magic engaged the Brooklyn Nets in talks earlier this summer, but those broke down before a mutually agreeable arrangement could be made. Because the Nets went on to re-sign center Brook Lopez, the Magic wouldn't be able to seriously re-engage Brooklyn until January.

Lopez would be an integral piece to any deal for Howard, but league rules require that he remain with Brooklyn until then.

Though the Houston Rockets have reportedly shown significant interest in acquiring Howard directly, he's far more likely to re-sign with the Lakers, and Houston knows it. The Rockets would functionally be shipping their most valued assets away in exchange for a one-year rental.

The Lakers, on the other hand, could keep this guy in the fold thanks to the organization's championship culture and the lucrative opportunities that await superstars in Los Angeles.

Though Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, insists his client will still evaluate his options in free agency next summer, it's hard to imagine D12 finding a better opportunity outside Los Angeles, especially among the organizations who can actually afford to sign him.

There's another interesting wrinkle that might bode well for the Lakers, but it requires a bit of speculation.

According to the Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch, Andrew Bynum's agent, David Lee, has been in touch with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, and they weren't talking about an extension:

"I saw the report,” Lee said of media accounts in which Kupchak said last week that the Lakers had begun discussions about an extension. “I think Mitch’s comment was that we had ‘a cordial and productive’ conversation. It was cordial and it was productive, but it had nothing to do with an extension.”

It doesn't require an especially paranoid reader to wonder what in the world that could mean. What might they be having a productive conversation about, if not getting an extension done?

Perhaps it was something innocuous enough, like how the Lakers' shift to the Princeton offense could impact Bynum's role.

But maybe, just maybe, there's something more to it.

After all, Bynum likely wouldn't be heading to Orlando in the event of a deal sending Howard to L.A. Instead, as ESPN's Ric Bucher explains, he'd probably probably wind up with the Houston Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers, teams that could send the Magic their preferred package of draft picks and youth.

Could Kupchak have been consulting Lee about which team his client would prefer?

Lee did in fact suggest that Bynum should be consulted before being moved to a team given his impending free agency. Perhaps the Lakers front office is merely obliging.

Again, this part of the equation requires some speculation.

What doesn't require much guesswork, though, is that the Lakers are in an ideal position to land Howard precisely because he's the guy who holds all the cards. No one will touch him with a 10-foot pole unless there's a reasonable belief he'll be sticking around.

Merely mortal organizations are in no position to make such assumptions.

The Lakers are another story, and for good reason.