NBA Trade Talks: Should the Lakers Land Chris Paul or Dwight Howard?

Alfred GarridoContributor IIIDecember 6, 2011

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 10:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets attempts a shot against Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic during the game at Amway Arena on October 10, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

After being threatened by the lockout, the NBA is back. Free agency and training camp start on December 9.

If you got stuck amid the controversy and drama that surrounded the association for the last few months, better hang on tight. There are a few blockbusters that have yet to happen. 

The current free agent class is not as star-studded compared to last year's troop, and I'm pretty sure none of these behemoths is going to run a one-hour special just to announce a decision and spit in the face of a city that, well, groomed him.

But come December 9, anything can happen in the association that has captured the attention of the world.

What happens in free agency depends on the mental battles of the owners and the loyalty and needs of the players.The drama is present, and the anticipation is high.

Who will land who? That is the question.

As the world anticipates what will happen with this free-agent class, the excitement has been exacerbated by one more aspect—the NBA trade talks. For months after last season ended, players, known and unknown, have been eager to find themselves new destinations where they can shine and win.

Two such players are among the biggest names in the industry—Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard and New Orleans Hornets point guard god Chris Paul.

For months, Howard has shown motives for opting to discontinue his contract with the Magic and test himself in the bigger market next year. No one can forget what happened to Cleveland last year when its King left for South Beach. That is what the Magic have been trying to avoid, so they have been quite open to what Howard has to say.

Rumor has it that Superman has the desire to join the elite roster of the Los Angeles Lakers. For the past couple of months, the Howard-to-Lakers talks have been circulating, and the Magic have been showing signs of content, knowing that Lakers center Andrew Bynum would be vital for this trade to happen.

Last week, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said that their superstar guard Rajon Rondo would not be shopped. It was said after news spread about Chris Paul's desire to take the reigns for the Boston Celtics at the 1.

Right after Ainge made his conclusive statement, the possibility of Paul controlling the tempo for other teams opened. The directions he's probably looking are California or New York.

With both superstars designing their exit strategies, and with the Los Angeles Lakers looking to find a suitable Robin for Kobe Bryant in his hunt for that sixth title, their motives could clash and the impact could be monumental.

Who should the Lakers land then? Howard, who brings the inside presence, or Paul, who runs the smoothest show? Or could it be possible for both of them to team up with Kobe?

If Dwight Howard is to be shipped to L.A., Andrew Bynum is sure to wear the blue jersey with a teammate of higher salary, let's say Pau Gasol and/or Metta World Peace. That opens the inside, which would be plugged up by Superman.

Meanwhile, Paul can be at starting point guard for the Lakers minus the likes of Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown or even Gasol and Bynum.

The complicated scenarios during trade talks are only simplified once the deal is done. Whatever happens to these possible negotiations, the Lakers would win the talks if they land Dwight Howard.

The vulnerability of their inside and their defense was exploited by the Dallas Mavericks last season when they fell 0-4 to the eventual champions in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

With several injuries nagging Bynum, Howard's consistency and strength can be vital in finding Kobe's sixth ring, and most importantly, overcoming Howard's own kryptonite to win his first of many NBA titles.

But nothing is sure in the market of the NBA.

The unexpected has happened over and over again. This year is no different. The only way to know who wins the trade talks and the signings is the playoffs. Mark my words, the playoffs.