Dwight Howard to Stay in Orlando? 10 Players LA Lakers Should Look to Next

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IMay 31, 2011

Dwight Howard to Stay in Orlando? 10 Players LA Lakers Should Look to Next

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    Dwight Howard doesn't look like he'll be joining the Los Angeles Lakers anytime soon.

    At a Memorial Day barbecue for Orlando Magic fans, Howard told the Orlando Sentinel that he wants to be with the team for the long haul, despite the fact that he has yet to sign an extension with the club.

    Rather than taking the approach of some of the stars before him, Howard said that he wants to blaze his own path in Orlando.

    It's time to scrap the Superman-to-Los Angeles speculation for the time being and take a look at some other possible scenarios to improve the Lakers for next season and beyond.

10. Kirk Hinrich, PG Atlanta Hawks

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    ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 24:  Kirk Hinrich #6 of the Atlanta Hawks against the Orlando Magic during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Hinrich has long been speculated to be an ideal fit in Los Angeles, and it appears that the trade talks could very well heat up this summer.

    With an $8 million expiring deal heading into next season and the emergence of Jeff Teague as a legitimate starting option, the Hawks would be wise to explore any and all scenarios for the veteran point guard in an effort to improve their team.

    Hinrich would really help the Lakers both on the perimeter and by running the offense, and he'd probably be the least costly of any player on the list for the ex-champs to acquire. 

9. Stephen Jackson, SF Charlotte Bobcats

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03: Stephen Jackson #1 of the Charlotte Bobcats reacts to a foul call late in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 3, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Heat defeated the Bobcats 96-8
    Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

    After Stephen Jackson almost forced his way out of town at the trade deadline last season, the Bobcats are just one more tough season away from alienating their best player entirely.

    There's little doubt that the club will be looking to move him as they continue to rebuild, as Charlotte certainly doesn't want his long-term deal on the books for very much longer, and he's not slated to become a free agent until the 2013-14 season.

    In Los Angeles, he'd replace Ron Artest (assuming that he is packaged for Jax) as the defensive stalwart in the starting five while providing the offensive boost that the club sorely needs after their stars struggled down the stretch. 

8. Jameer Nelson, PG Orlando Magic

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    ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  Jason Richardson #23 and Jameer Nelson #14 of the Orlando Magic against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NO
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Dwight Howard might not be on his way out of town, but it's entirely possible that Jameer Nelson could be.

    It's going to be a lot easier to move Nelson's contract than it would be Gilbert Arenas, and if General Manager Otis Smith is looking to re-tool his lineup, shipping Nelson out would be an intriguing way to start.

    For the Lakers, Nelson would not only be able to run the offense, but he could also serve as a dangerous offensive threat as the fourth option on the floor and would often be left alone when the opposition rotates to double-team one of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. 

7. Raymond Felton, PG Denver Nuggets

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Raymond Felton #20 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates late in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Although the Nuggets weren't hesitant to play Felton alongside Ty Lawson last season, it's clear that the latter is the point guard of the future for the team.

    With Felton's contract set to expire at the conclusion of next season, there's no doubt that he'll hear his name in several trade scenarios, but a tenure in Los Angeles is one that actually makes sense.

    He'd immediately step in at the starting point guard spot, and, after proving that he can distribute the rock last season, would provide a serious upgrade over the current Derek Fisher-Steve Blake combination.

6. Brandon Jennings, PG Milwaukee Bucks

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    MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 24: Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the basketball against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Three of Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at the Bradley Center on April 24, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wis
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    There hasn't been a hotter name in trade rumors over recent weeks than Brandon Jennings, and it's very possible that the friction between he and head coach Scott Skiles has caused some deterioration between the point guard and his team.

    The Bucks have a roster filled with overpaid swingmen and would be better off to blow it up and start from scratch considering that they'll never reach postseason success with the team as it's currently constructed.

    Shipping Jennings to Los Angeles would not only net a promising return for the Bucks, it would provide a much-needed injection of youth to a Lakers team that was the second oldest in the league last season.

5. Monta Ellis, PG Golden State Warriors

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    BOSTON, MA - MARCH 04:  Monta Ellis #8 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after the ball is given to the Boston Celtics on March 4, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Celtics defeated the Warriors 107-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly a
    Elsa/Getty Images

    When Jerry West was introduced as a new member of the Golden State front office last week, he hinted that there were changes looming on the horizon.

    There is a ton of chatter surrounding the backcourt and the possible split of Ellis and Stephen Curry because the two are so similar, and Curry's youth, contract and image give him a much better chance of being the player that remains with the club.

    Although Ellis' offensive role would have to be slightly reduced, he would definitely be capable of dishing out dimes with ease for a Lakers team that's loaded with far more talent than the Warriors, and I'm fairly certain he'd embrace the chance of playing for a championship alongside Kobe in the same backcourt. 

4. Rudy Gay, SF Memphis Grizzlies

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    PHOENIX - DECEMBER 08:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns  at US Airways Center on December 8, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or usin
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Despite the club's repeated insisting that they won't deal Rudy Gay in the offseason, there are going to be a number of interested teams that undoubtedly come knocking at Memphis' front door.

    After signing Gay to a max contract last summer, the team played their best basketball of the season with their star sidelined due to a bum shoulder, sparking the rampant debate as to whether or not they'd be better off without him.

    He'd not only be embraced with open arms in L.A. but would simultaneously provide the team with a perimeter threat and offensive production from the small forward spot that has been missing for far too long.

3. Josh Smith, PF Atlanta Hawks

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    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 12:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks walks onto the court during introductions before facing the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Geo
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Despite being one of the most unique players in the league, it's very possible that J-Smoove will be taking his talents to another club next season.

    Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently suggested that a divorce may be in the best interest of both parties, and it's entirely possible that the Hawks will look to move Smoove and pursue a true center, which would allow Al Horford to play his natural power forward position.

    If he were shipped to Los Angeles, Smith would provide an awesome upgrade at small forward over Artest while still providing similar defensive contributions to the team. At just 25 years old, there's still plenty of room for Smith to grow as a player. 

2. Steve Nash, PG Phoenix Suns

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 13:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 13, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or usi
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Steve Nash would really be the feather in the cap of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Although both Phoenix and Nash have each expressed their interest in remaining together, the Suns would be wise to begin the rebuilding process the right way and obtain the most possible talent in exchange for their star in order to fill out the depth on the roster.

    Nash won't be playing for too much longer in the grand scheme of things, which makes his L.A. landing spot an ideal one for the Lakers. He would definitely provide the boost that they need on the offensive end and would run the flow of the team a whole lot better than it has been in any recent season.  

1. Chris Paul, PG New Orleans Hornets

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 26:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets moves the ball against Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2011 at Staples Center in Los
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Chris Paul's name is going to be mentioned in almost every conceivable trade scenario as his free agency looms closer, and if the Lakers are serious about securing another championship before their window closes, they should really make a strong push toward nabbing the elite point guard.

    It's kind of a sticky situation given the fact that the Hornets are still controlled by the league, but if the Lakers were somehow able to execute a deal for CP3, they'd instantly become favorites to win it all next season.

    Although it's admittedly a long shot, the Lakers' chances of winning another title are even more remote if they stick with the current less-than-dynamic duo of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake.  

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