The rumors of Dwight Howard wanting to go to LA started months ago. And with the Lakers recent playoff disaster, the "Dwight Howard to LA" discussion has kicked up a notch. Magic Johnson said that everyone on the Lakers should be expendable but Kobe. If that became the case, the long shot of getting Howard would seemingly become a realistic possibility. Should LA go after Howard? Should they make any significant trades at all?
Why they shouldn't:
I think everyone saying the Lakers are "old" is overblown. Why? Because the team they just lost to is older than them. I think people are underestimating how difficult a 3-peat really is. This isn't a team that's just "old." It's a team that is coming off three straight Finals appearances. And during that time, Kobe and Pau played in the Olympics in '08 and Odom just played in the FIBA World Championship this past off-season. Their three main players have only had two short off-seasons of no basketball, during a span where they've played 405 games (not including international games). Isn't it possible they're just burnt out? Should they really mess with a championship core because they couldn't make it to the Finals four years straight?
Why they should:
If fatigue was not the primary reason for poor play, there would be two reasons to shake up the team: lack of cohesiveness and lack of competitiveness. I don't think fatigue was the only contributor to Gasol's poor play. Even though he has been labeled "soft," his passivity was on another level. Something else had to be going on. The rumor is that his girlfriend broke up with him, and that there may have been an additional problem with Kobe, made sense to me. He looked like he didn't care at all whether or not the Lakers made it to the Finals. He looked so apathetic that I'm half expecting him to announce that he's taking his talents to South Beach. But now he's saying that those rumors of conflict are false. He said that it was the false rumors being spread that caused him problems. False rumors caused you to play bad? They caused you to lack any semblance of aggression? They caused you to show no heart, even after Phil Jackson got in your face multiple times?
If that's true, that's ridiculous. The Lakers aren't paying him 17 million dollars to be affected by what people are saying on the internet. If that's not true, and the source of his abysmal play was a result of conflict between teammates, then the Lakers would need to make some trades. Either way, here are their possibilities going forward...
Lakers stand pat:
I'd prefer not to see Dwight Howard in a Laker uniform. I like to see franchise guys stay with their team. Besides, I thought Bynum was the only one besides Kobe who looked invested in winning. I would like to see LA be loyal to him. I'd prefer they make some minor changes - such as acquiring Aaron Brooks and someone like Jared Dudley - but, ideally, the core should remain intact.
LA makes a trade without getting Howard:
If LA is going to make a trade, here's what I'd like to see happen (working off the idea that Josh Smith is going to leave Atlanta and that Golden State needs to trade Curry or Ellis):
LA gets Josh Smith and Stephen Curry
Atlanta gets Pau Gasol
Orlando gets David Lee and Zaza Pachulia
Golden State gets Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and Chris Duhon
LA gets younger and more athletic. Atlanta immediately becomes a serious contender, with a pretty scary lineup. Orlando gets a solid frontcourt of Howard, Lee, Bass and Pachulia. Golden State gets a compatible point guard for Ellis and a power forward duo of Anderson and Udoh that will be around for a long time.
Howard to LA:
Let's assume that Kupchak thinks LA needs to make some trades and that it's true Dwight Howard wants to play in LA and follow in the footsteps of Shaq, Wilt and Kareem. If this were to happen, here's how I'd like to see it play out:
LA gets Dwight Howard and Josh Smith
Orlando gets Andrew Bynum, Stephen Curry, and David Lee
Golden State gets Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and Zaza Pachulia
Atlanta gets Pau Gasol
The Lakers get the guy they want and Josh Smith. Orlando gets a solid foundation of Bynum and Curry (both only 23), along with a quality player in Lee. And the results for Atlanta and Golden State would be virtually the same as the prior trade suggestion.
If Dwight Howard ending up in LA is inevitable, I would love to see Orlando get Bynum, Curry and Lee. At least then they would be set up with two young, very good players.