During a recent interview with the LA Times, Los Angeles Lakers president Jim Buss said it would be ridiculous to think the Lakers would be willing to part with center Andrew Bynum and forward Pau Gasol for Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard, but should we believe him?
Some Lakers fans think Gasol and Bynum are a pretty high price to pay for the services of Howard and I mostly agree, but then I am reminded of last night's loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Bynum's absence last night can be explained by his reduced suspension stemming from his antics in last season's playoffs, but most fans are accustomed to a Lakers lineup minus Bynum due to his various leg injuries during his brief career.
Gasol was present, but it's hard to say he was accounted for considering the manner in which he disappeared during the fourth quarter last night.
Gasol did manage to score 14 points and snare eight rebounds, but he hardly looked like one half of the Lakers' All-Star post combo that Buss made him out to be in his interview.
Gasol's poor showing in the 2011 postseason and his pedestrian performance against the Bulls doesn't mean that Gasol has reached the end of his NBA career, but it might be a little closer than most people believe.
Which is why Buss would be pretty silly to completely rule out trading Gasol and Bynum for Howard, and we would be even sillier to take him at his word.
After all, this is the same person who just attempted to blow up his team by trading Lamar Odom and Gasol for Chris Paul, which would have been arguably a worse deal than the rumored Gasol-and-Bynum-for-Howard swap.In my opinion, Buss' aggressive approach when it came to acquiring Paul sent a clear signal that the Lakers would be willing to deal any of their stars besides Kobe Bryant in order to reach the game's greatest stage again.
And their decision to deal Odom to Dallas just might prove it. Otherwise, how else do you explain the Lakers trading away their most versatile post player for virtually nothing in return?
Anyone watching the Lakers lose in the final seconds to the Bulls came away with the impression that the Lakers were a little more talented than many people have given them credit for, but they are still an unfinished product.
Acquiring Howard would certainly achieve that end.
And the odds of bringing Howard to Los Angeles may have tilted a little in the Lakers' favor after it was reported that Brook Lopez, who was the centerpiece of the New Jersey Nets' bid for Howard, had suffered a potentially serious leg injury of his own.
As the clock to Howard's 2012 free agency continues to wind down, Magic general manager Otis Smith will be faced with the prospects of declining leverage when it comes to negotiating the terms of an inevitable Howard trade.
Sooner or later, Smith may be forced to accept the best deal available for Howard or risk losing one of the NBA's true game-changers for nothing.
Under that context, maybe Buss really is on to something because there is a chance that Lopez's injury coupled with Smith's foot-dragging could create the optimal set of circumstances that could see the Lakers acquiring Howard for only one of their big men.
But if the Magic are adamant about including both Gasol and Bynum in the deal, Buss should still consider it, unless of course he feels that either player represents the future of the Lakers franchise.
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