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Chris Paul Trade Rumors: Lakers Smart to Make Dwight Howard Primary Target

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 11:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic head to the sideline during Game Four of the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers on June 11, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won in overtime 99-91. 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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2011

The Los Angeles Lakers made a very smart decision to pull out of the Chris Paul trade talks on Saturday and shift their focus to acquiring Dwight Howard, who will help the team win a championship more than Paul would.

It now seems that the Lakers will have to battle the New Jersey Nets in trying to come up with the most attractive offer to give the Orlando Magic for Howard.

Adding Paul would have been good for the Lakers but it is not what they needed. The team has won five NBA championship since the early 2000s and none of them came with an elite or even star point guard.

Derek Fisher was the point guard on all those title teams, and the reason L.A. won those Finals series was because of their frontcourt, primarily center Shaquille O'Neal.

The Lakers are at their best when they dominate the paint, and with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol they have the best PF/C combo in basketball.

Having two seven-foot players like that who can score well, rebound and block shots, makes you incredibly tough to beat. Having Bynum and Gasol causes real matchup problems for almost every NBA team.

Acquiring Howard would give the Lakers the best big man in the game and someone who would dominate at both ends of the floor.

In an era of NBA basketball where there are few real dominating centers, acquiring Howard gives the Lakers a huge advantage over the rest of the league.

Center is the most important position in basketball, and even though acquiring a player like Paul would have been awesome for the Lakers, doing so and really hurting the strength of their frontcourt would have been a poor move. 

Defense and rebounding win games in the playoffs, and without Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (both included in original Paul deal) the Lakers would have struggled on the boards. They could not have trusted Andrew Bynum and his often injured knees to be responsible for the bulk of the rebounding.

It will be difficult to acquire Howard over the Nets, but this challenge will be far more rewarding if they succeed.

The Lakers could have maybe won in the short term with Paul, but with Howard they would be major contenders now and for many years to come. 

The difficulties in landing Paul will be a blessing in disguise for the Lakers, who now will turn their attention to landing the league's best center.

Having basketball's best big man is a strategy that has worked many times for the franchise, with it being the primary reason L.A. has won 10 titles since 1980.

 

Nicholas Goss is an NBA Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report

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