As soon as the Dallas Mavericks gave the Lakers an early exit in the playoffs last year, people immediately began to call for a shakeup in the Lakers’ roster. Once the lockout ended, we began to hear a number of rumors that had the Lakers making upgrades that included Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard.
After all of that talk and the smoke cleared, all the Lakers were left with was a first round pick in replace of Lamar Odom. That certainly wasn’t the blockbuster deal that Laker fans were hoping for.
When David Stern cancelled the Chris Paul deal, it left Laker players and fans angry and deflated. I would argue that all is not lost. A trade still can and should be made.
Even though Andrew Bynum is playing the best basketball of his career and the Lakers are in first place, now is the time to trade him. It is time for the Lakers to revisit the Dwight Howard trade and make it happen.
Think about this. Everyone in the league knows that Dwight Howard wants out of Orlando. As the days and weeks increase, the Magic’s trade leverage will begin to decrease. No of us should not be scared of the fact that Howard has added the Clippers to his list of teams. In the end that may make the Lakers want to give up more to keep him from joining the Clippers.
The Orlando Magic execs need to come to the same realization that all NBA teams with disgruntled superstars have had to face. When your star player wants out, it is extremely difficult to get a player of equal value for him. That is just not the way it works. The Lakers didn't get a player even close to Shaq's ability and the Nuggets didn't even get an all-star for Carmelo Anthony. In most cases, you get a couple of nice players or draft picks.
The only chance the Orlando Magic have to get anywhere near a franchise player is to trade for Bynum. Which is easier to sell your fan base on? We traded Dwight Howard for Brooke Lopez, or we traded Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum, arguably the 2nd best center in the league?
Here’s why the Lakers should do this, no matter how well Bynum plays. Although Bynum and Howard play the same position, they have completely different mindsets. They are both really good players and would be a huge asset to any team in the league. However, Bynum seems to be extremely concerned about scoring. He doesn’t appear to have a desire to dominate on the glass or on the defensive end. He may show flashes here and there, but that is not who he is at his core.
Dwight Howard has already proven that he can dominate a game without scoring. That is what the Lakers really need (in addition to a quick point guard). A team that has Kobe and Gasol doesn’t need a center that thinks offense only. They need someone that will be willing to do some of the less glamorous things that it takes to win. The Lakers aren’t just trying to win games; they’re out to win a championship.
The problem is that it will likely take more than just Andrew Bynum in order to make a Dwight Howard trade possible. It will likely take another one or two players, plus that first round pick they got from Dallas. The Lakers should offer anyone on the roster with the exception of Kobe and Gasol. It has been rumored that Gasol would be included in a Dwight Howard trade. Doing this would not make the Lakers a better team. There is not a single player on the Orlando Magic roster that would make the Lakers better if he were to be added in a trade for Howard.
I think Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown realize that dealing both Gasol and Bynum for Howard wouldn’t be a good idea. Is there another player on the Lakers’ roster that the Magic might take? It doesn’t look likely on the surface. However, I think there is reason why Brown gave Devin Ebanks so much playing time at the beginning of the season. I think that they wanted to see what he can do, so he can be shopped to another team. It doesn’t look like that experiment was a success.
One big factor that is likely impacting this whole thing is Andrew Bynum’s health. Over the last 4 seasons, Bynum has only played in more than 60 games once. Dwight Howard has never played in fewer than 79 games in his entire career. Any team trading for Bynum would be gambling.
If the Orlando Magic continue to wait to make a trade, it may be tough for them to get the ideal player value that they are looking for. If the Lakers and Magic are going to make a deal happen it will likely require the participation of a third team. Now is the time for the Lakers to make the deal. Andrew Bynum’s value may never be higher than it is right now.
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Cliff Holmes is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a leading retailer of cornhole games.