Lakers should value Dwight Howard more than Chris Paul
The Lakers could face the dilemma of a car enthusiast forced to choose between a muscle car and a convertible.
The Lakers reportedly are interested in pursuing both Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, but realistically speaking, they may have to decide between the two. Do the Lakers go after the league's most dominant center or most dominant point guard? It's a good problem to have, but something the Lakers must weigh as they pursue trade options.
Much hinges on what the Magic and Hornets want in return. The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner report the Lakers haven't even contacted the Magic, but that Orlando would want both Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum in return. That's not happening. Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that New Orleans covets Bynum and doesn't want Pau Gasol and his three-year, $57-million contract as a trade centerpiece.
The Lakers' standard should involve willngness to cut ties with anyone not named Bryant. But in purely what Howard and Paul offer as players, the Lakers should still hold Howard in higher regard. This may create some head-scratching, considering the Lakers already have size and glaring point-guard needs. But Howard has become the league's best center and would make any point guard weaknesses a moot point.
If the Lakers get beat off the dribble, Howard could swat those shots away and collect his fourth consecutive defensive player of the year award. If the Lakers struggle with outside shooting, Howard's power alone would still make it hard to double team both him and Bryant. And with the Lakers continually worried about their health, they can rely more on Howard missing only seven games in his seven-year career than Paul possibly experiencing knee problems. Overall, history has shown a dominant NBA center always proves more important to winning a title than an elite point guard.
The Lakers stand to benefit regardless of whether they land Howard or Paul. But with the possibility that it's only realistic to nab one of them, it's clear that bigger means better.
Photo: Dwight Howard, left, and Chris Paul can become free agents after this season, putting pressure on Orlando and New Orleans to get something in return before the perennial All-Stars walk away for nothing. Credits: Kim Klement / US Presswire, left; Bill Kostroun / Associated Press
-- Mark Medina
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