The Los Angeles Lakers are unsure if they will be able to hang on to free-agent center Dwight Howard this offseason, but one option may be to trade him to the crosstown rival Clippers for another former No. 1 overall pick—All-Star power forward Blake Griffin.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein broke news of this development on Saturday, indicating that promising young point guard Eric Bledsoe would be part of the package in a sign-and-trade pitch by the Clippers once Howard hits the open market:
However, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports cites a source who says the Lakers will absolutely not do a deal involving Howard in the form of a sign-and-trade:
Howard went first overall to the Orlando Magic in 2004, and the Clippers chose Griffin at the top of the 2009 draft. The NBA landscape would be completely changed, especially with regard to professional hoops in the City of Angels.
Clippers stud point guard Chris Paul has discussed teaming up with Howard in the future, and with both being eligible for free agency this summer, it appears they could be united in light of this news.
Owner Donald Sterling essentially implied to the Los Angeles Times less than a month ago that Paul was a big factor in the franchise's decision to fire head coach Vinny Del Negro.
That was in spite of the fact that Del Negro coached the Clippers to the organization's best regular season ever with a record of 56-26.
Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni failed to lead his team to the playoffs, but by acquiring the services of the supremely athletic and strong Griffin, he would have an ideal power forward for his "Seven Seconds or Less" offense.
Bledsoe is also an intriguing piece to the puzzle, because he hasn't gotten to prove himself fully in coming off the bench for Paul.
Whatever happens, this should be an interesting, all-in type of offseason for the traditionally conservative Clippers, and the Lakers seem keen on obtaining assets to make D'Antoni's schemes work.