2011 NBA Playoffs: Pau Gasol's Struggles Give Traction to Dwight Howard Rumors

Andrew TongeAnalyst IIMay 7, 2011

Howard and Gasol could soon be switching uniforms.
Howard and Gasol could soon be switching uniforms.Harry How/Getty Images

The Lakers are finally at to point where they have to face the fact that their dynasty, as they know it, is over.

It is hard to comprehend it with the team they have now, but they have to retool if they want to keep winning championships. I can't believe I am saying this, but they haven't been tough enough on the inside against the Dallas Mavericks.

That is what it is about in the playoffs. Toughness. Pau Gasol is front and center for the Lakers in that department. You can't help but notice how many times Phil Jackson was yelling at him and voicing his displeasure about how he was playing.

Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were the only bigs that were willing to mix it up with the Dallas bigs in Game 3. That has been the trend in the series.

Gasol seems like he doesn't want any part of the physical play when it is taken to the next level.  He seems uninterested. Instead of fighting for position, he just drifts farther away from the basket.

That plays right into his opponents' hands. They will get eliminated from the playoffs, it is just a matter of when. Now they have to break up the team and move on.

They are not young, and other than Kobe and Shannon Brown, they are not that athletic.

Enter Dwight Howard.

Everyone's thinking originally was that Bynum would be the one available, along with everyone else on the team except Gasol.

I would make Gasol available before Bynum. If you are not willing to be physical and fight in the playoffs, you need to go. Keep Bynum.

The Lakers are over the salary cap, so they are going to have to part with a lot. The question is, what would Orlando take, and where does Howard want to play?

If I am Orlando, and I have to trade Howard to the Lakers, I am asking for Bynum, Odom, Brown, and at least three first-round draft picks, and I would want another team or teams involved so at least one or two of those picks to come from another team.

That way, if you are Orlando, you are not picking at the bottom of the first round every year.  Keep in mind there are other teams that will be in the fray, such as the Nets. The big question is, where does Howard want to go?

He has said that he wants to stay in Orlando, and he doesn't like the cold weather. Well, it is not cold in L.A. He will be playing with Kobe. He will have another big man to play with. Doesn't sound bad.

If he leaves Orlando, that means he doesn't think they can put a championship team around him, and he would be right. If he wants to stay, he has to do some recruiting to get another "A" level star to come in. 

They don't have the players, or contracts that other trading partners would be looking for. That is the problem. Their cap situation isn't the best either. If Howard's goal is to win championships, he has to think about leaving Orlando.

If he decides to leave, Orlando can get a good haul from the Lakers. Howard also has this to think about. The East is not getting any easier. The Knicks are poised to add Chris Paul and others, while the Heat and Bulls are on the upswing as well.

He may have a better chance to get through in the west. Don't count the Nets out either, with Deron Williams in the fold.

I predict that Howard will have a change of heart and try to get traded to the Lakers. It will take Orlando too long to get rid of the bad contracts, and rebuild again.

The Lakers won't have Phil Jackson, and they have to blow up their team. Howard would be a great start.