Chris Paul: Dwight Howard to Lakers Will Curb the Clippers' Enthusiasm
Today seems like a very good day to be a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers.
LA's other team recently announced that they have completed a deal to acquire New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, which gives the Clippers another legitimate superstar to pair with phenom-in-the-making forward Blake Griffin.
Additionally, the Clippers managed to meet NBA commissioner David Stern's high standards, while retaining young talent like DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.
I'm not sure if the Clippers are ready to overthrow the Lakers as Staples Center's main attraction just yet, but if the shortened NBA regular season started tomorrow, they could certainly make a case.
Paul and Griffin are arguably just as big on the NBA's star meter, especially after the Lakers decided to trade forward Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for basically nothing.
Now, instead of watching Paul decimate their porous defense and go home, the Lakers can practically escort the source of their discontent to his locker, in what has traditionally been their arena.
To make matters worse, Paul was unofficially a Laker before he was a Clipper.
The Lakers are not only forced to watch a legitimate trade for Paul go down the tubes because Stern and the competitive balance police did not like it, but they also have to stand by and watch Stern approve a deal to a team that shares the same arena?
It seems like the Clippers, who have been eternally waiting for the last laugh when it comes to the Lakers, finally have the chance to start giggling, for a little while at least.
Some people may feel the Clippers have overtaken the Lakers as Hollywood's most glamorous team, but once the Lakers sign Dwight Howard, the order of the universe will be restored and the Clippers will reclaim their status as Los Angeles' other team.
And make no mistake, the Lakers will eventually spirit Howard away from the Orlando Magic. Ironically, Paul's deal to the Clippers may indirectly lead to the Lakers next great era.
If the Lakers had managed to acquire Paul in their original deal with the Hornets and Houston Rockets, Los Angeles would have lost forward Pau Gasol as well as Odom.
The Lakers may have still been able to assemble an attractive deal for Howard with center Andrew Bynum as the centerpiece, but the presence of Gasol definitely sweetens any potential trade scenario, especially when you consider the Magic's most recent stance.
According to ESPN, the Magic have decided to take Howard off the trading block, because general manager Otis Smith feels the team has not received any offers worth listening to.
Smith and the Magic may have the strength and courage to stand by their convictions, but just because you are faithful doesn't mean you're not stupid.
Maybe someone should tell Smith that the offers for Howard will get a little worse as the 2012 free-agency signing period approaches. No matter how long he puts it off, Smith will eventually have to make a decision.
Or inevitably Howard will.
I simply refuse to believe that Smith will certify his unremarkable run as the Magic GM by letting Howard walk away, leaving the Magic in Cleveland-like ruins.
However, the longer Orlando drags their feet, the more likely they are to accept a lesser deal than one of the at least three Smith was considering, particularly the Lakers.
It is common knowledge that the Magic granted the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks and the Lakers permission to seek possible trade options for Howard, but can either of those teams match a package that includes both Gasol and Bynum?
In fact, I'm not sure if the Nets or Mavericks could even match a deal that includes Bynum only, along with some of the Lakers' younger players and a few draft picks.
Smith can only play chicken with the inevitable for so long. Once he is forced to accept the best deal available, the Lakers will be waiting in the shadows to pounce.
And to the shadows is where the Clippers and Paul will return once Howard finally dons the colors of the Staples Center's primary tenants.
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