Feb 4, 2012, 6:00 PM EDT
Despite assertions to the contrary, the Lakers remain firmly on Howard’s list of three teams he’s asked to be traded to, along with the Nets and Mavericks, multiple people familiar with the situation said. The Lakers’ clear preference is to trade Pau Gasol in a Howard deal and not Andrew Bynum, who was elected as an All-Star starter for the first time this week.
So take a walk with me down hypothetical lane.
Let’s set up a series of possibilities:
- Let’s say that Dwight Howard realizes Brooklyn is cold, that the Nets will have to surrender any semblance of talent they may have just to get him in trade outside of Deron Williams, and that he could wind up with Shawne Williams as his third best player. The Nets still have to be considered the leaders for Howard, but let’s say they don’t land him.
- Let’s say that the Lakers don’t ride their success out and decide to go for the home run.
- Let’s also say they manage to get a deal done with Houston (you know, kind of like the one they already had done for an All-Star) to send Orlando the veterans they reportedly want instead of young players. They send out Pau Gasol and whatever else and don’t have to give up Bynum.
- Let’s say they don’t immediately then swap out Bynum for Deron Williams which would be the next logical step given the abject panic that would result from the Nets. (Again, this is unlikely to happen, Nets fans, we’re focusing on a Lakers scenario here.)
What if the Lakers paired Bynum with Howard?
This is, naturally, insane. You don’t commit $30 million-plus to two centers. Their skill-sets overlap. It’s just beyond crazy. You’re talking about $60 million-plus being committed to three players down the line when the luxury tax goes bazooka.
The negatives are obvious. Who guards out in space against stretch fours? Can Howard cover in space that well? Wouldn’t teams just slot in a versatile oversized three at the four and bomb away? I mean, who’s guarding Ryan Anderson on that lineup?
But the, I mean. Come on. Who’s scoring in the paint versus that team? Two seven-foot centers with freakish athleticism? There would be no rebounds. There would be no shots in the paint. There would be nothing but an all-consuming maw down low. If the Lakers struggled to defend smaller lineups, smaller lineups would have no ability whatsoever to defend those twin towers. As long as there’s a competent swing man to facilitate a pass from one or the other out of a double team to the other one, you’re looking at a pretty unstoppable set.
Naturally, Kobe Bryant could have issues with this. Where are the shots going to come from?
There are a number of flawed ideas with this, but it is tantalizing. Lakers owner Jim Buss gets to keep his precious commodity in Bynum. The Lakers get the two best centers in the league. They overwhelm with size, and Kobe Bryant is set up for that sixth title. It fits well with Mike Brown’s offense. It’s too crazy to work, but it’s amazing to think about.
The reality is that the Lakers won’t get Howard without giving up Bynum, and if they do manage to, they’ll have to move Bynum to return scoring help. That’s how much this Howard situation can shift the league.
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