The Lakers appear to have given up on trying to trade for Chris Paul. The NBA blocked the original three-way trade that would have sent Paul to Los Angeles, Pau Gasol to Houston, and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a draft pick to New Orleans. It looked as if the teams would try to restructure the trade. Now, with Lakers sending Odom to Dallas for a first-round draft pick, it is unlikely that Paul will find his way to Los Angeles.
One would assume the Lakers will now focus on trying to land Dwight Howard. David Stern's veto of the Chris Paul trade was an abuse of power and ultimately harmed the Hornets and Rockets. However, it may have helped the Lakers. They should have gone after Howard from the beginning.
There was some speculation that Los Angeles was trying to acquire both Paul and Howard. This stemmed from the fact that center Andrew Bynum was not a part of the Paul trade. This was a pipe dream. In all likelihood, the Magic would have fielded a better offer than Bynum and a couple of late draft picks for their franchise center.
Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league. He would have been a great addition to the Lakers. However, he is no Dwight Howard. Unlike the point guard position, the NBA is in the midst of a famine of good centers. Howard holds the title of best center without any serious competition.
Howard can make any defense respectable. He effects the game more than any other player on the defensive end. He doesn't only grab rebounds and block shots. His mere presence changes how opposing offenses play. Quite simply, he owns the paint.
By pursuing Paul, the Lakers forced Lamar Odom out the door. Now, even if they get Howard, they may not be able to put enough pieces around him and Kobe Bryant. Odom would have been a great complement to Howard.
It's baffling because Howard is a better player than Paul. Not just in absolute terms, but for the Lakers. While Paul and Kobe would probably have been able to figure out how to divide the ball-handling responsibilities, there is no guarantee they would coexist smoothly. Paul's injury history is also a reason for worry. Howard has been solid and healthy since he entered the league and inside-out combinations are easier to figure out than back court ones.
It remains to be seen if Los Angeles will be able to lure Howard away from Orlando. However, it is likely that the duo of Gasol and Bynum will be the best offer Orlando receives. If Dwight Howard goes to Hollywood, it will be a shame he won't play alongside Lamar Odom.