Chris Paul to LA Lakers and Dwight Howard Trade Rumors

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 8, 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

ESPN's Chris Broussard recently announced that the Los Angeles Lakers will acquire New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul as part of a three-team deal also involving the Houston Rockets.

ESPN is reporting that the NBA is trying to kill this deal for obvious reasons, but assuming it does go through what does it mean for the Lakers?

Lakers fans are rejoicing right now, but I'm not sure all the excitement is over Chris Paul.

Make no mistake, Paul is an elite player and the Lakers will have the NBA's best back court with Paul and Kobe Bryant, but after today's deal they are a weaker team.

Which leads me to believe that this may only be the team's opening volley in a free agency battle that can catapult the Lakers back to the NBA Finals in June.

Acquiring Paul is nice, but what the move really does is make Los Angeles a much more attractive destination for prized free agent center Dwight Howard, and by refusing to include Andrew Bynum in the deal, the Lakers just might pull it off.

Maybe new team president Jim Buss has a grand plan after all.

Lakers fans were swept up in the perception that Buss would never trade Bynum, and there are more than a few people still upset with Buss' decision to go against the grain and hire Mike Brown to succeed Phil Jackson.

But if Buss is able to bring Howard to Hollywood, I'm willing to bet most fans will find a little forgiveness in their hearts.

The Lakers may be on the verge of the biggest free agency coup since LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach, but the Lakers trio would have more star balance at the most important positions on the court.

There are still some people who will doubt the Lakers' ability to land Howard and Paul, and a few have even called that scenario a pipe dream, but in reality the Lakers have crafted their legacy by making deals that no one saw coming.

The now departed Pau Gasol was a part of one of those deals and now Paul joins the list as well.

Be honest, how many people really thought Los Angeles would be where Paul landed after listening to weeks of speculation linking him to New York, Boston and other teams?

Well, I have a hunch that the Lakers have one more trick left up their sleeves, but unlike the Paul deal, the framework for the trade that will bring Howard to Los Angeles has already been laid.

And, because of Paul the path is right there, clearly visible for all to see.

If and when Howard does become a Laker, the shortened 66 game regular season will get a lot longer for the NBA's other 29 teams.