Forget about the Pau Gasol NBA trade rumors, for now.
The spotlight has shifted to Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard, and rightfully so. According to ESPN.com, L.A. has reportedly discussed the possibility of making a move before the Feb. 21 trade deadline; although GM Mitch Kupchak said that no trade was “imminent.”
This completely changes the landscape of the NBA’s trade deadline and the dynamic of any potential Gasol trade. Could the Lakers take an approach that would find the team without both Gasol and Howard before the deadline?
That’s highly unlikely, but not improbable, either.
Making a deal for Howard would border the “knee-jerk reaction” variety, but it could bring back a solid crop of talent and draft picks to build the Lakers. That’s important for an aging roster that may try to sign LeBron James in 2014 and is pondering what “life after Kobe” will look like.
There is also no guarantee that Howard, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, will re-sign with the Lakers after the drama and struggles of this season.
As for Howard in the near-term, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. He has the most potential of any paint player in the league due to his ability to dominate the boards and also get up and down the court.
If the Lakers are going to move him they are going to need a willing trade partner. Let’s take a look at some teams that may be willing to package some picks and talent in order to take a swing at corralling Howard’s vast potential.
"We want everybody to know that the Bank of Cuban is open and if it’s the right deal, we don’t mind taking back money,” Cuban said.
The only problem for Cubes is that there hasn’t been a player worth taking on financially that would be worth making the splash.
In a perfect world, the Mavs could shed the contract of Shawn Marion (2 years, $8.6 million) and the expiring contract of Chris Kaman ($8 million) along with some draft picks and bring Howard to Dallas.
While it’s not ideal for Los Angeles, they could reap significant long-term benefits from the selections they would get from Cubes in the process. Besides, Kaman is a different player than Howard and could play in a rotation with Gasol and Jordan Hill in the coming years without needing to be coddled as Howard has shown.
A Three-Team Deal with Houston and Brooklyn
There are a multitude of different three-team deals that could be worked out before Feb. 21, but let’s take a look at a new one.
This trade involves sending Howard to Brooklyn and PG Darius Morris to the Rockets. In exchange the Lakers would bring in SF Gerald Wallace from the Nets and C Omar Asik from the Rockets. Houston would score C Brook Lopez in the deal, making the deal worthwhile for them.
The x-factor of a deal like this would have to be draft considerations. Houston and Brooklyn would need to mortgage the future in order to help make this deal happen.
The Rockets already have their 2013 first-round pick wrapped up, possibly, as it is lottery protected until 2017. Overall, the Rockets have two extra second-round picks in 2015 and have their own first rounder for the foreseeable future.
How badly do they want Lopez in this scenario, is the question.
Brooklyn would need to give up long-term first-round picks in order to sweeten the pot for the Lakers. They do not have the rights to their 2014 or 2015 first-round selections.
These picks would be crucial for the Lakers in the coming years as they have already mortgaged their first-round draft picks in 2013, 2015 and 2017.