Andrew Bynum: Why Dwight Howard Could Define His Legacy as a Laker

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 8, 2011

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 13:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives against Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at Amway Arena on February 13, 2011 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

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum is the only member of the roster since 2008 who has yet to lose in an NBA Finals series, but if you listen to the rumors circulating around the team you might think the Lakers can't win another championship with him.

Bynum's name has recently been linked to potential deals involving New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, but for Lakers fans I have talked to, the possible trade for Howard generates far more conversation.

And controversy.

It is widely known that the Lakers desperately need an upgrade at the point guard position. It is also generally understood that most Lakers fans covet Howard, no matter how much the organization has led us to believe that Bynum is the team's center of the future.

Bynum does have the talent to fit that role, and in some instances his fans have been privileged enough to witness glimpses of his enormous potential.

In my opinion, Bynum's inability to stay healthy has nullified any hopes of him being the centerpiece of the Lakers future, but that doesn't mean another team will take the same stance. Especially if that team is the Orlando Magic.

Howard's impending 2012 free-agency status has created a sense of urgency in the Magic's front office, and it increases exponentially when you consider that Howard has not shown any interest in signing an extension.

Magic general manager Otis Smith had the benefit of watching the Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams saga play out in real time, and in that case history may be the best teacher.

I'm sure Smith would prefer to keep Howard, but in the interest of retaining his own job, Smith has to have a plan B, and there are few teams who fit that description better than the Lakers.

New Jersey was the first team to officially cast their lot into the Howard sweepstakes by offering young center Brook Lopez as the main attraction of their package.

Lopez is a versatile offensive player who is capable of creating scoring opportunities in the paint and the short perimeter, but his defensive game could use a little work on fundamentals and intensity.

Bynum's offensive game is at least equal to Lopez's, and few people would question Bynum's heart, passion or desire.

The Chicago Bulls are rumored to be "a sleeper" for Dwight Howard, according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski.  One GM thinks the Bulls may offer the Magic any two to three players on their roster besides Derrick Rose, and while the underrated Joakim Noah may be an intriguing piece in a trade, he's still not a true low-post center.

In reality, Noah is an undersized power forward, and the Bulls could add any other player or players they wanted to in an attempt to acquire Howard, but none of them would be as attractive as some combination of Bynum, Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom from the Lakers.

Of course, none of this means Howard is destined to don the famed purple and gold uniform, but the prospects of that happening are more real than some people are willing to admit.

And if the Lakers do manage to land Howard, it will ultimately be because of Bynum, which is ironic considering his injury-riddled, star-crossed time with the team.

In a weird twist of fate, Bynum's potential as the primary piece of a trade to bring Howard west has become much more important than his future with the Lakers.

There were some Lakers fans who envisioned Bynum as the franchise's next great post player, and while he may never attain that status, Bynum can still be a part of Lakers lore.

In fact, if the Lakers do acquire Howard because of Bynum, it could add more to his legacy as a Laker than anything he has ever done on the court.