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Game 7 Win or Not, Lakers' Next Big Achievement Will Be Dwight Howard

David Weiss@<a href="https://twitter.com/Davinchy83" class="twitter-follow-button" data-show-count="false">Follow @Davinchy83</a> <script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){jsCorrespondent IIIMay 12, 2012

The Lakers will need to get an Orlando Center once more for Kobe to win his 6th ring.
The Lakers will need to get an Orlando Center once more for Kobe to win his 6th ring.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are going to play tonight in a Game 7 matchup that they will more than likely win because of their size, experience, home-court advantage and the improved health of Kobe Bryant.

Fine.

But following Game 6, what should it tell you that the leader of the Los Angeles Lakers couldn't refrain from calling out people for their lack of mental toughness and urgency?

I'll tell you what.

Kobe Bryant—otherwise known as the guy who overcame a lockout, marital separation, multiple injuries, changes to the team's front office all the way down to the coaching staff, a vetoed trade that would have landed Chris Paul and the removal of Derek Fisher and Lamar—is beginning to sense that the Lakers may not have what it takes to win a championship.

Which is why, if the Lakers fail to beat the Nuggets tonight, let alone Oklahoma City in Round 2, expect to hear the name Dwight Howard.

A lot!

Not that you wouldn't have heard it anyway, given the US Weekly-like coverage that surrounded him and the Magic all season long.

But with rumors that Dwight Howard is unwilling to sign an extension, along with the likelihood that the Lakers will fall short of winning a championship this year, both the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers will be motivated to make a deal work this offseason.

Especially considering that Andrew Bynum is the undisputed second-best center in the NBA, no matter what anyone says.

In essence, it would simply be foolish for the Magic to risk losing Howard for nothing by playing hardball with L.A. like they did this year, when getting Andrew Bynum would reduce the collateral damage of his departure more than any other attainable player.

It's just a fact.

From the Lakers' standpoint, meanwhile, getting Dwight Howard for a package that will be headlined by Andrew Bynum instantly transforms the team into the kind of championship contender that would have been favored against the Thunder and the Spurs in the following round.

Additionally, they will have an entire offseason to mull offers for Pau Gasol, who still commands a lot of value on the trade market given the dearth of skilled big men in the league.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't see this coming offseason playing out like last year (at least because David Stern won't be involved).

Kobe Bryant knows his expiration date is coming closer by the season, and, like I said before, after overcoming one of the most difficult seasons of his career, he will show little mercy to teammates who couldn't even muster a fraction of that resiliency.

So enjoy Game 7 tonight.

But just know that the Lakers' next big win will come during that inevitable day this summer when Andrew Bynum heads to Orlando and Dwight Howard comes to L.A.

After that, maybe even a Pau Gasol trade.

All I know is that, this time next year, we won't be talking about Game 7s in the first round.

Because the Lakers will be the other team waiting for their second-round opponent to complete their series.

Like the Oklahoma City Thunder are now.

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