The Los Angeles Lakers positioned themselves as a serious title contender when they landed Dwight Howard in the blockbuster trade of the summer. Could they now be targeting disgruntled Hawks star Josh Smith?
When Howard was traded to LA, he joined future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, along with fellow big man, Pau Gasol.
The Lakers had a successful offseason, but they have done little to set themselves up for long-term success.
The Lakers are among the NBA's oldest teams.
Nash and Bryant only have a few good years left, and while Howard has said he will sign an extension this summer, nothing with Dwight is certain until he signs on the dotted line.
Smith is only 26 years old and could be an important part of LA's future. Also, the combination of Smith and Howard on defense would be lethal.
It is no secret that the Lakers are open to moving Gasol.
He was part of the trade that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers organization before it got vetoed by commissioner David Stern, and Gasol's name has also been brought up in several other deals.
Gasol is firmly on the trading block, and Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times (h/t Atlanta Journal-Constitution) reported in June that the Lakers were looking to move the Spanish power forward once again in order to land Smith. However, Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that "the Hawks balked at a potential deal with the Lakers for Pau Gasol because L.A. wanted another major piece to go along with Smith."
A swap of Smith for Gasol would make perfect sense.
Smith has told the Hawks that he wants a trade, and if he doesn't get it, he is likely to leave in free agency anyway.
Howard and Smith are reportedly friends, so acquiring Smith could help keep both stars in the purple and gold.
Gasol would fit in well within the Hawks offense. He would give them a lethal big man combo down low alongside Al Horford, and he has the flexibility to hit the mid-range shot.
While a third team may need to get involved because their contracts do not match up in a direct swap, it is something that the Lakers should pursue, if they want to build for the future and improve their defense.
For the Hawks, they should think about dealing Smith, so they can get something for him before he leaves in free agency.
Should the Lakers deal Gasol for Smith? Would it improve or hurt their chances for a title? Leave a comment below with your opinion.
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