NBA Trade Rumors: Los Angeles Lakers Must Land Dwight Howard Soon

Ryan Phillips@@RumorsandRantsContributor IIIAugust 5, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives aganst Ian Mahinmi #28 of the Dallas Mavericks during the game at Amway Center on March 30, 2012 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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic seemed to back off their attempts to trade center Dwight Howard in recent weeks, but sources have told Fox Sports Ohio that the 26-year-old All-Star could be traded soon. If the Los Angeles Lakers are going to land Howard, they must make a deal happen soon to ensure continuity when the 2012-13 season opens. 

By acquiring Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns via sign-and-trade and signing Antawn Jamison this offseason, Los Angeles has made itself much better. But Nash's addition will hurt the Lakers defensively, which is why Howard—three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year—would be a much better fit for the team than Andrew Bynum currently is. 

Bynum and Howard are the NBA's top two centers, but Howard is without question the better defensive player. Bynum might have more upside offensively, but the Lakers don't lack offensive firepower.

But if Los Angeles does plan on acquiring Howard, the franchise must make it happen soon. With Nash, Jamison and Howard arriving as new starters, they must meet with head coach Mike Brown and make sure they have a firm grip on his offense before the season starts.

The Western Conference now belongs to the Oklahoma City Thunder and if the Lakers want to make a run at another championship in 2012-13 they must come out playing well to open the season. That means they must get a deal for Howard done as soon as possible. 

If they aren't going to acquire the six-time All-Star, then they need to definitively end the speculation so Bynum doesn't feel slighted and unwanted. It's a delicate balance, and general manager Mitch Kupchak is essentially walking a tightrope in this situation.

Whatever happens, it has to happen soon.