Lakers Trade Rumors: Why Chasing Dwight Howard Isn't Worth the Risk

Evan BarnesContributor IIIDecember 12, 2011

As of press time, Dwight Howard is still with Orlando. Yet the Lakers have given up Lamar Odom and peace among their players with the hope of getting him.
As of press time, Dwight Howard is still with Orlando. Yet the Lakers have given up Lamar Odom and peace among their players with the hope of getting him.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There have been a few near-trades in Lakers history, but none may have the devastating effect of the Chris Paul trade nixed by the NBA.

As a result, Lamar Odom was traded for a first-round draft pick, a trade exemption and a possible chance for the Lakers to get Dwight Howard, who may or may not be involved in trade talks with the team depending on when you read this.

To add insult to injury, Chris Paul might end up wearing Clippers gear as reports indicate the team is closing in on making a suitable deal for the All-Star point guard.

So what did this gamble cost the Lakers? If Dwight Howard doesn’t end up in purple and gold, they traded away a popular player for nothing and angered a team looking to make maybe one last run to a championship.

Several Lakers voiced their displeasure with the trade at the team’s media day, including Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant. It’s possibly the most contentious opening of training camp since 2007 when Bryant asked to be traded to anywhere, even Pluto.

Yes, this is all a part of the business, but there also needs to be clues this is part of a bigger picture. The Lakers have typically made smart deals in the past, and in time they made sense. Right now, there is no sign that’s true here.

With Odom gone, the Lakers lose a valuable piece of their frontcourt along with depth and athleticism on their already-thin bench. Toss in the loss of Shannon Brown to Phoenix, and ultimately the Lakers may have lost more than they gain.

Dwight Howard will come at a hefty price too. The trade talks being discussed include either Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol or both. So it’s possible the Lakers could lose their best assets besides Bryant, although I expect one will remain.

We’re looking at a Lakers team that could start Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Howard and Bynum/Gasol and feature Matt Barnes, Jason Kapono and Steve Blake off the bench along with rookies Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.

It’s not bad, but it's also not the best-case scenario and right now, the Lakers look like they gambled away positives of their present with the hope of rolling a seven on their future.

To be fair, their dice was loaded by the NBA, who owns the Hornets. David Stern vetoing this trade forced the Lakers’ hand because of “basketball reasons” or cowardly action combined with jealousy and/or post-lockout fear by Dan Gilbert, Mark Cuban and the owners who voted against it.

Instead of sending Odom away with something to show for it, the Lakers got a low draft pick and a trade exception. All to gamble on the best big man in the NBA.

It’s a gamble that I feel will backfire. With Howard, they are still a contender albeit in two to three years, Howard will be surrounded by unproven pieces.  Without Howard, replace my last sentence with Bynum and the immediate future doesn’t look so bright.

Obviously Lakers fans will have to trust that Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have a trick up their sleeve in letting Odom go for nothing. Right now, it looks like the makings of a potential disaster if Howard isn’t on the floor Christmas Day.