Lakers Rumors: Why Dwight Howard Freeze Will Bring Teams' Attention to Pau Gasol

Bradlee Ross@rossbeCorrespondent IIMarch 13, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives against Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter during the game on January 18, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 98-92. 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

At this point before the NBA Trade Deadline, it looks pretty clear that Dwight Howard is staying with the Orlando Magic past the trade deadline. That development will lead to another development in teams turning their attention to Pau Gasol in Los Angeles.

Right now, the Orlando Magic’s preferred trading partner is the Chicago Bulls. However, those talks have been killed, reportedly because Howard has refused to sign a long-term deal that would put him in Chicago past June.

That is a great development for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are looking to improve their team by shipping off power forward Pau Gasol for parts to make a champion.

Teams that would want Howard would probably also want Gasol because he is a legit, versatile seven-footer and one of the better scoring big men in the league.

It makes quite a bit of sense for teams that want Dwight Howard to also want Pau Gasol.

Gasol is actually a bit taller than Howard in the post and, while not as thick or strong, he has proven throughout his career that he is strong enough to battle down in the post with the NBA’s best.

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Another positive that teams will like about Gasol is that he is just as talented as Howard. Gasol is one of the five or six most talented post players in the league. His offensive skills surpass those of Howard by a long shot.

Any team that needs a big man would want Gasol, if only for the simple fact that he’s versatile.

Gasol is averaging 16.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. That rebounding mark is the second highest of his career.

He’s also shooting over 50 percent from the field and is racking up 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game.

Gasol’s numbers compare pretty favorably to those of Howard. Howard blocks more shots and records more rebounds, but he’s down in the assist category and his free-throw percentage nearly 30 percentage points lower.

Another reason that teams will want to use Gasol as a backup is because he can probably be had for less than what it would take to acquire Howard.

The Lakers need a point guard and possibly draft picks, whereas the Magic are looking for a deal that would have to be pretty phenomenal and to a place where Howard would sign.

The amount of players and draft picks it would take to land Howard could be twice as much as what it would take to get Gasol, who is a bit older but has a good history of being healthy.

One positive that Gasol has that Howard doesn’t is that Gasol has no choice over where he’ll play. He still has a couple more years left on his deal, which would guarantee the team that gets him a chance to try and make things work.

Teams like Golden State and Chicago should look to Gasol if and when they are unable to land Howard. His stats are comparable, he’ll be cheaper to get and maintain and he’s guaranteed to play with them for a few seasons.

Gasol isn’t the better deal, but he’s a hell of a backup plan.