Dec 5, 2011, 3:23 PM EST
The New Orleans Hornets have their eyes wide open and know they are going to have to trade Chris Paul. The Orlando Magic are holding out more hope of retaining Dwight Howard but that feels like a longshot as well. The front offices in both cities have to be gauging offers right now, or they are not doing their jobs.
But if they are both looking to make a deal, do they both want to deal with the Lakers? Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski says that may make it a race between the two sides.
Why? You’re not going to get equal value back when you trade your superstar, but Andrew Bynum comes about as close as it gets. And the Lakers will part with him.
In a lot of ways, the Hornets and Orlando Magic are in a race to make a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for Paul and Howard. They’re running so many scenarios across the big boards in their offices, but make no mistake: Los Angeles is the port that can entice Paul and Howard to sign extensions, with the one player – young center Andrew Bynum – as a centerpiece that can justify the trade.
The Lakers and Hornets talked several days ago, league sources told Yahoo! Sports, but it was one of those circuitous conversations that left the sides unclear what it would take to get a deal done, and the talk ended with no formal offers. The Lakers and Hornets expect to speak again this week, sources said. The prospect of Pau Gasol as the primary player going to the Hornets won’t be acceptable, sources said. The Lakers will ultimately be willing to let New Orleans pick its player in the deal – Bynum or Gasol – but New Orleans is determined to get quality, and quantity, in a deal.
The Nets will offer Brook Lopez and picks, but most teams would rather have Bynum than Lopez. That seems like a fallback.
For the Lakers, Chris Paul gives them the missing athleticism and someone who could be very good on the pick-and-roll with Pau Gasol. Dwight Howard upgrades them in the paint and gives them a younger star to transition with in the post-Kobe Bryant era.
We’ll see if this happens, however. After a lockout filled with talk of competitive balance could the league-owned Hornets send Chris Paul off to the Lakers to form another trio of stars? Would the other owners tolerate that from David Stern? As for the Magic, could they trade Dwight Howard to the franchise that took Shaquille O’Neal away from them? There would be fan backlash.
Which is a way of saying we are a long way from a deal either way here. But the Lakers may have the best offer out there and that is going to count for something.
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