Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Paul to Clippers Backs Lakers Management into a Corner

Matt SmithContributor IIIDecember 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Dwight Howard #12 and Matt Barnes #22 of the Orlando Magic in the first quarter during the game on January 18, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Earlier this month, when the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets agreed on a deal, many envisioned Chris Paul playing at 1111 S. Figueroa St. Then, the unthinkable happened and David Stern killed the trade.

As it turns out, Paul will still be playing at 1111 S. Figueroa St., the address of the famous Staples Center. The shock is that won't be in a Lakers uniform as many had pictured.

This past week, we had heard rumors of the Clippers entering trade talks for CP3 and then backing out. Then, when they got back in again, they left with one of the most coveted prizes on the trade block in Paul.

A few weeks ago, there was talk about Kobe Bryant's team landing two of the top 10 players in the league. Now it is possible they may not end up without either.

For Lakers management, this certainly isn't good news. A player who was practically yours a week ago has gone to an in-town rival and will be playing in your arena, but not for your team.

Despite all this, there is still hope for LA to land a marquee player. That marquee player is the only superstar still being shopped around—Dwight Howard.

After failing to acquire Chris Paul, the Buss Family and Mitch Kupchak must land Howard in a trade. There is no other option.

Howard, who just turned 26 a few days ago, is the top center in the league and one of the most dominant players in the NBA right now.

There are a couple of options for the Lakers. One would be to send Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to Orlando for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. The Lakers have said they didn't want to do this, but that was before they lost Paul.

The other option is to bring in a third, or possibly fourth, team into the deal to help sweeten an offer based around Bynum to Orlando.

If the Lakers let Howard slip away, this will be one of the biggest offseason failures in NBA history.

The Lakers are backed into a corner.

By failing to acquire Paul, the Busses and Kupchak must do whatever they can to trade for Dwight Howard, even if they don't want to.