Per Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News, the Lakers stand to resolve all their outstanding problems by reuniting Nowitzki and Steve Nash at the expense of Howard:
And when you stop laughing at the thought of Nowitzki playing for the Lakers and start thinking about how much sense it makes for everyone involved, the unimaginable actually becomes plausible.
How, you ask?
By trading Dwight Howard to the Mavericks for Nowitzki.
By rolling the dice on Nowitzki paired with Nash paired with Kobe Bryant paired with Pau Gasol, creating the kind of perfect amalgamation for D'Antoni's system.
By understanding that combination gives the Lakers a better chance to compete for a championship over the next two years, not the team we see flailing about with mismatched parts trying to fit into a system it's not built to succeed in.
And by accepting you're going to have to blow things up in two years anyway, and with Gasol and Bryant and Nowitzki's contracts all expiring after the 2014 season, the Lakers will go into that summer with enough cap space to add at least two dynamic young stars.
Finally, by admitting Howard might not be the ideal piece to build around moving forward and by dealing him now - and adding the perfect part for D'Antoni's offense while preserving cap space in 2014 - you're making proper use of an asset.
It makes all the more sense if you have any doubt Howard will re-sign here when his contract expires.
Awesome. But try not to laugh anymore because Bonsignore isn't kidding.
Entertaining a potential Howard-for-Nowitzki swap is humorous, but when the source of such comedy intends austerity, what was once funny becomes tragic.
A deal of this magnitude, of this blueprint is never going to happen. Period. Neither team would even entertain such a notion.
Though Bonsignore actually makes a compelling case for Dallas to pull the trigger on such a deal, team owner Mark Cuban is vehemently opposed to trading Dirk. At all.
"no knock on dwight, i just won't trade dirk," Mark Cuban wrote to me in response to a Dwight-4-Dirk (+long term assurance) hypothetical.— David Baumann (@DavidBaumann33) January 10, 2013
But let's, if only for a minute, throw caution and logistical decency to the wind: What if this was actually being discussed? Would it happen?
And here, the answer's still no.
Moving beyond the fact that Cuban won't trade Nowitzki and ignoring the Lakers' plan to build the team around Howard, this deal just doesn't make sense—for Los Angeles.
From a loyalty perspective, it doesn't make sense for the Mavericks to trade the greatest player in franchise history to anyone, let alone the Lakers. Dirk did lead the organization to its first and only title, after all.
Should Cuban opt to show the same sense of loyalty Jason Kidd showed him this past summer, though, one could argue that Howard can be a face of the future, while Nowitzki cannot. Thus, advocating such a deal would make plenty of strategic sense—especially if the ever so frustrated Dirk waives his no-trade clause in a request to be moved.
But can we argue the same for the Lakers?
There's no denying that Nowitzki is the ultimate stretch forward. He can post up on the block, hit leg-kick induced fadeaways and, most importantly, spot up from behind the three-point line.
Pretending that Dirk's current three-point clip of 42.3 percent and career-mark of 38 percent isn't appealing would be futile. But pretending that Nowitzki's acquisition— at the expense of Howard, no less—would solve anything is even more inane.
Los Angeles has plenty of scorers. In fact, its running a system that turns non-scorers into, well, scorers (see Earl Clark). One of the last things the Lakers need is another point-totaling machine. Not when their defense is in shambles.
Ah, defense. Did we forget about that, Mr. Bonsignore?
The ever-out-of-place Pau Gasol's 12.2 points and 41.6 percent shooting are career-lows, but the Lakers still house the sixth-most potent offensive attack in the league. It's their 22nd-ranked defense that needs improving.
Is Nowitzki going to fix anything for Los Angeles defensively?
Not at all. Dirk isn't what you would consider a horrid defender, but he's never been an elite one, either. Not like Howard.
You remember Howard, right? The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year? The only player in the league averaging at least 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game? The big man who is holding opposing centers (per 82games.com) to a mere 14.7 PER per 48 minutes?
Yeah, that Howard.
He hasn't been able to save the Lakers defensively, so Nowitzki isn't about to, either.
This is the same big fresh off knee surgery who wasn't keen on making sharp lateral movements to begin with. This is also the same Nowitzki who is currently allowing opposing forwards to post a PER of 26.2 per 48 minutes.
That's who the Lakers are going to replace Howard with?
Had Bonsignore been discussing a Gasol-for-Nowitzki trade, there would certainly be some grounds for consideration on Los Angeles' behalf. But he wasn't. And Cuban would have refuted such a notion quicker than he did this one.
Plus, it would also be a tough sell for the Lakers if they want us to believe they're truly committed to defense. Gasol is holding opposing bigs to a combined PER of 13.2 per 48 minutes when he's on the floor, about half of Nowitzki's mark.
But we digress.
Dealing the 27-year-old Howard in favor of a 34-year-old Nowitzki is nonsensical.
How much so?
Would the Lakers even consider a Dwight Howard for Dirk Nowitzki swap?
To the point where Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni would likely toss aside his lust for a stretch forward and condemn the accord's existence himself.
Nowitzki only stands to improve an already elite offense while diminishing the effectiveness of an already debilitated defense.
How could the Lakers support, how could they justify such a trade?
They can't, and they won't.
Because it won't even be talked about, let alone stomached. Bonsignore is living in a world all his own here.
One that is more whimsical than the Land of Make Believe the Lakers call home.
And yes, that's saying something.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of January 9, 2013.