Dwight Howard to Lakers: Do You Think Kevin Durant and LeBron James Noticed?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IAugust 12, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat look on in the first quarter of Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, 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

Team USA's semifinal victory over Argentina in the 2012 Summer Olympics and their impending showdown with Pau Gasol and Spain in the gold-medal game wasn't the only topic of discussion on Friday, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

The news of Dwight Howard's trade to the Los Angeles Lakers didn't receive top billing, and teammates Gasol and Bryant were the only participants who were willing to openly talk about the deal, for obvious reasons.

Mainly because they are the only players in London who will benefit from the deal. But sometimes a person's silence says more than any words can.

Bryant's Olympic teammates LeBron James and Kevin Durant were both asked to give their opinion on Bryant's latest stroke of luck, and Stein reports that James dismissed the question with a wave of his hand, and Durant simply responded by saying he doesn't care.

There is nothing wrong with either Durant or James' comments, since they did had the task of capturing a gold medal to focus on, but as Stein suggests, both players probably felt the NBA landscape quake from the magnitude of the move.

And just when Durant and James were on the verge of gracefully sending Bryant off into the sunset.

I'm sure the top two players on the NBA's top two teams were aware of the Lakers' earlier acquisition of point guard Steve Nash, and while it did thrust the Lakers back into the discussion, Howard potentially changes everything.

Durant's Thunder and James' Heat were not afraid of Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Gasol, and they probably won't be afraid of Howard either, but they will respect the fact that he's there.

Plenty of people have given reasons why the Lakers' new big four of Nash, Bryant, Gasol and Howard could fail, but there are many more reasons they might succeed, and Howard represents a major part of that.

Bryant is no longer an elite perimeter defender, and Nash has never been, but Kobe can continue to gamble in the passing lanes while Nash continues to ignore defense completely. No other team has an eraser like Howard in the paint.

Of course, Howard's presence doesn't excuse the fact that stopping the ball-handler at the point of attack will be an issue for the Lakers, but as an offensive player, who would you rather challenge at the rim, Bynum or Howard?

Howard's athleticism is much more important to this Lakers team than Bynum's skill, and his defense completely dwarfs the impact of Bynum's offense.

Especially when it comes to teams like Miami and Oklahoma City, who thrive on the virtues of small ball.

The Heat and the Thunder make their living by penetrating the lane and getting to the rim, and fortunately for the Lakers that's where Howard makes his living as well.

James and Durant's fans may not want to admit it, but the Lakers and Howard create a few matchup problems of their own. While the Thunder and Heat should still be considered as Finals favorites, how could anyone not take the Lakers seriously?

There are questions concerning chemistry that must be answered by the Lakers, and Howard's back will be an issue until he returns to the court, but instead of dwelling on what could go wrong for the Lakers, imagine what could go right.

This current Lakers roster has enough talent, experience and yes, depth to challenge for the 2012-13 NBA championship. Even if you don't believe it, I'm pretty sure that James and Durant do.