The worst case scenario for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason is to watch star center Dwight Howard walk away from the team without getting anything in return.
According to Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group, the Warriors sent a contingent that included co-owner Joe Lacob, general manager Bob Myers and head coach Mark Jackson to Los Angeles to make their pitch to the coveted free agent.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Howard was impressed by Jackson.
While many Lakers fans may see Howard going anywhere as a disappointment, the 7-footer's departure to Golden State could be a key move for the Lakers to remain competitive.
Unlike other teams in the Howard sweepstakes, the Warriors don't have the cap room to sign Howard straight up. They would have to rely on a sign-and-trade to bring Howard into the fold.
Thompson reports that the Warriors are willing to offer Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes in exchange for the big man.
Walking away from the Howard situation with a combination of Bogut and either Thompson or Barnes would have to be considered a huge win for the Lakers organization.
Bogut is nowhere near Howard's level. But he did show that he is a valuable rebounder for the Warriors as he averaged 10.9 boards per game through the Warriors' impressive playoff run. Paired with the improved scoring that Pau Gasol would see from receiving more touches in the post, the Lakers would again have a strong frontcourt, even without Howard in the middle.
However, the real crown jewel of the trade haul would be either Barnes or Thompson. The Lakers are unlikely to have much wiggle room in free agency whether Howard leaves or not, and they have few players with any upside on the perimeter.
Barnes and Thompson both figure to have bright futures in the league. Both swingmen shined in the postseason for the Warriors. Barnes averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and Thompson went for 15.2 and 4.6 while shooting 42.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Either one would give the Lakers a great piece on the perimeter, both now and in the inevitable post-Kobe Bryant era in Los Angeles.
It's a potential deal that would really offer benefits for both sides. The Warriors obtain one of the few elite big men in the game—the kind of player that can make them a legitimate contender in the right system.
Meanwhile, the Lakers get rid of a player that doesn't necessarily fit in with Mike D'Antoni's system while adding a swingman that will be a pivotal contributor for years to come.
It's one of the few scenarios where Howard's departure will make the Lakers a stronger team moving forward.
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