Lakers should offer Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol for Dwight Howard
With each day that passes without the Lakers securing any of the "big deals" General Manager Mitch Kupchak envisions, the less likely the purple & gold can win the NBA championship.
Heck, if the Lakers don't secure a big deal, it wouldn't be surprising if they fare even worse than last season's Western Conference semifinals sweep to the Dallas Mavericks. Both Lamar Odom's absence hurts the Lakers' front line and bolsters the defending champion's lineup. Andrew Bynum's five-game suspension forces the Lakers to slide Pau Gasol into center. And the Lakers are in a three-way competition between Josh McRoberts, Ron Artest and Luke Walton for the starting power-forward spot.
Yup, the Lakers are in trouble.
The Lakers need to pursue Dwight Howard, and the urgency remains strong. But with the Clippers acquiring New Orleans Hornets Chris Paul, L.A. has fewer opportunities to pursue "big deals," which has always been a code word for both Paul and Howard.
That's why the Lakers have to be willing to construct a trade packages using anyone on their roster except for Kobe Bryant. Landing Howard is so important that the Lakers need to be willing to both offer Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to land Superman.
But the Lakers need to realize they're better off with Howard than retaining both Bynum and Gasol. Howard remains the undisputed best center in the game, has won the defensive player of the year for the past three seasons and has remained healthy. Bynum may grow into a more complete center. His injuries might subside with further caution. The Lakers can still succeed with him. That's a huge gamble, however, that the Lakers can't afford to take.
Meanwhile, Gasol will surely bounce back from his disappointing 2011 playoff campaign. His chemistry with Kobe Bryant is still one of the top combos in the game. And the Lakers need more of his presence without Odom.
But the Lakers can easily overcome any of the frontcourt depth they lose by acquiring Howard. Players will clamor to sign with the Lakers knowing they can team with Howard and Bryant. Even though Kupchak ideally wants a center and a point guard as starting points in constructing a team, Bryant would create a solid one-two punch with Howard. And with Bryant near the tail end of his career, Howard would ensure that the Lakers have a franchise player after Bryant's time expires in three years.
It's critical the Lakers pursue this correctly. After all, the front office's miscalculations on Odom and failure to secure Paul already have set the team back significantly.
— Mark Medina
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Photo: Magic center Dwight Howard during a playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks. Credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images / April 28, 2011.