The last couple days have been baffling for Los Angeles Lakers fans, and for the league as a whole. First, the Lakers tried to trade for Chris Paul, then abruptly pulled out and traded Lamar Odom for draft picks and a trade exception.
Although many people have theorized that this move was part of a complex plan to acquire Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, it's not at all clear how trading Odom helps the Lakers achieve that goal. I have developed one possible explanation that seems to explain the Lakers' bizarre moves.
First, some background information about the teams involved in this trade. The Lakers want Howard, but the Magic reportedly want both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, which is too steep a price for the Lakers to pay and which would leave them with no starter-quality PG or PF. The logical next step for them to take is to involve a third team. What better team is there for the Lakers to include than the Houston Rockets?
The Rockets, for their part, want Pau Gasol, badly, presumably so they can pair him with either Nene or Marc Gasol and create a massive frontcourt. For him, they were willing to send the Hornets Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, and Luis Scola. There's no reason to assume they've changed their mind.
The Lakers, meanwhile, have just traded Odom to the Mavericks in exchange for draft picks and a trade exception, a move which, in the absence of a deeper plan, seems misguided at best. I've been trying to believe that this move was actually part of a deep plan to acquire Howard, but until now, I didn't understand how. Here is my theory as to the reasoning behind this trade.
The Lakers will trade Gasol to the Rockets, in exchange for which the Rockets will send Scola to the Lakers, who will use their trade exception on him, and send Martin and Dragic to the Magic, possibly along with draft picks.
The Lakers also send Bynum and draft picks (theirs and the Mavericks', acquired in the Odom trade) to the Magic, in return for which they receive Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu's tremendous contract, and Jameer Nelson.
In summation, the Rockets are left with lots of cap room and Pau Gasol, which is what they wanted from the original Lakers-Hornets trade; the Magic get a very talented group in Bynum, Martin, and Dragic, as well as lots of draft picks; and the Lakers get to trot out a starting five of Nelson, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Scola, and Howard, which looks like the best they can possibly do at this point.
I don't know if this plan is anything like what the Lakers are intending to do, but it seems to explain the curious actions that the franchise has recently been taking.
Still no news on if this trade might happen, but other people are having similar ideas, it seems: