Lakers Rumors: Who Are the Lakers Gunning for in the Offseason?

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IDecember 8, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic sits on the bench during a timeout before the final seconds 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.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Coming off a 57-25 regular-season record and a trip to the Western Conference Semifinals, the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to beef up for a title run after longtime head coach Phil Jackson's retirement.

That has them pursuing a couple big names and looking to address key weaknesses on the roster.

With free agency right around the corner and the offseason set to end on Christmas, you can bet to see players flying round the league leading up to the start of the season.

Here are a few players who have been connected to the Lakers in trade rumors so far. 

Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard is not only one of the biggest names on the trade market, it appears the Lakers may just have a chance of acquiring the big man.

Howard, who has developed into the best center in the league, averaged an astounding 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.4 steals while shooting nearly 60 percent last season.

Howard has been rumored to have several potential suitors, including the Lakers, New Jersey Nets or Los Angeles Clippers.

However, because the Clippers haven't gotten an assurance from Howard that he would sign an extension before hitting free agency in 2012, it appears they are out of the running, per Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.

That leaves the Nets and the Lakers.

Who do you think Howard would rather play for?

The Lakers could potentially trade center Andrew Bynum in a deal for Howard.

Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans Hornets

It's becoming more and more likely that Chris Paul will be traded before the season starts.

Per John Reid of the Times-Picayune, the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Mavericks, Celtics, Knicks and Magic all have had preliminary talks with Paul.

However, the Lakers appear to be concentrating more on Howard, particularly because there are concerns about Paul's knees down the stretch.

Jason Kapono, G/F, Free Agent

Jason Kapono may seem like an insignificant addition, but he's proven he can be deadly from beyond the arc in his career, shooting over 43 percent from long range.

The Lakers shot 35.2 percent from downtown last season, ranked near the middle of the league.

They could use a player like Kapono, and apparently they are already working on a one to two-year deal, per The Los Angeles Times.

The Lakers also brought Kapono in for a workout on Monday, per Gil Alcaraz IV of Yahoo! Sports. 

J.J. Barea, PG, Free Agent

The Lakers, Clippers, New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings have all been linked to J.J. Barea.

According to him, via, the Dallas Mavericks aren't exactly jumping at the chance to re-sign him.

Said Barea:

"It's not looking good here in Dallas, I don't think. I'm disappointed. I wasn't expecting this. Hopefully, it gets better.

"It's disappointing they're not going to do what needs to be done to bring back the team. I want to come back. I think the fans want me to come back. But, I don't know."

Lakers fans know Barea all to well. He's the guy who lit them up in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals last season, inciting center Andrew Bynum to check him late and get thrown out of the game. In that game, he scored 22 points, going 9-for-14, and added eight assists in 27 minutes.

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