Sure, Paul would have addressed the Lakers' need for help at the lead guard position, but NBA commissioner David Stern's rejection of the Paul-to-Lakers deal may have inadvertently paved the way for a Lakers deal for Orlando center Dwight Howard.
And while Paul certainly helps the Lakers in the short term, is there a better future plan for the Lakers franchise than the best big man in the game today?
The competition for Howard's services will surely be a torrid affair, and the Lakers hold a definite advantage in potential negotiations if they choose to use all of the resources at their disposal.
Unfortunately, forward Lamar Odom figured to be a major component in Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak's plan to land Howard, and his recent trade to the Dallas Mavericks changes those plans. But not necessarily for the worse.
Kupchak's decision to trade Odom may have killed any deal for Paul, but it may have increased the urgency and the probability of the Lakers landing Howard.
I have compiled a slideshow that explains the top three reasons the Lakers are still Howard's best free-agency destination, and if the Lakers and Kupchak are serious about acquiring him, why Magic general manager Otis Smith will not find a better deal.
It will be impossible for the Magic to replace Howard if he does decide to bolt from central Florida, but Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are not a bad place to start.
Gasol and Bynum are without question two of the top five players in the NBA at their respective positions, and the Lakers can even sweeten the deal with young players like Devin Ebanks and Andrew Goudelock, in addition to draft picks.
The Lakers could even throw in a little veteran help like Matt Barnes or Metta World Peace if it suited Smith's fancy.
There are other teams who could offer the Magic younger players and more draft picks, but how many of them can promise that Orlando will be a strong playoff contender in 2012?
Which brings me to my next point...
If you take Howard away from the Magic and replace him with Bynum and Gasol, the Magic would still be a solid playoff team with arguably the top frontcourt in the East—but can you say the same thing about the Magic with Brook Lopez?
Lopez is a decent player, but unless Deron Williams is part of the deal, Orlando will struggle to earn the East's eighth seed.
And, of course, the New Jersey's Nets' draft picks are a nice bridge for the future, but the Lakers' potential gift of Bynum and Gasol allows Orlando to remain competitive right now, and they can also offer draft picks for the future.
Other teams like Chicago and Dallas can also offer attractive pieces in a trade package, but no other team can offer a duo like Bynum and Gasol, who could lead the Magic to the postseason in 2012.
Los Angeles has a big enough market, media and history to appeal to Howard, but the most important factor may be the presence of star guard Kobe Bryant.
Bryant and Howard would definitely be the most dominant perimeter-post tandem in the West, and while a Lakers roster without Gasol and Bynum and no real point guard help may seem like a scary prospect, the Lakers will still be good enough to challenge for the conference crown.
It's also a lot easier to build a championship roster when two of the most important positions on the court are occupied by future NBA Hall of Famers.
Bryant's greatest value in luring Howard may be the fact that his time as a Laker is winding down, which would leave the reins of what is arguably the NBA's greatest franchise firmly in Howard's hands.
Chicago, New Jersey or Dallas can in no way possibly match that little piece of truth, and that's why when the smoke finally clears from this flash-fire free-agency period, the Lakers may be left standing with the greatest prize of all.