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Dwight Howard or Chris Paul: Who is more likely to be a Laker?

December 6, 2011 | 10:54 am

Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the possibility of the Lakers trading for Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic and/or Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets.

Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

There's a chance both could land there, which raises another question: Wasn't the new collective bargaining agreement supposed to promote more competitive balance and limit players' power over movement? Oops.

If you have to pick one, Chris Paul is the more likely option since he has already told Hornets management he won't sign an extension. No team -- even one owned by the league -- can afford to lose a player of Paul's value for nothing. Though massive speculation exists that Dwight Howard will reach the same conclusion, there is no official word from Howard or the Orlando Magic to this point yet.

The Lakers aggressively will enter both sweepstakes in an attempt to get younger and more athletic. As for those making the trades, see the Denver Nuggets for Exhibit A on how to handle it. They waited out the situation last season long enough to make a solid basketball trade for Carmelo Anthony. Back before, you know, the new CBA was supposed to prevent such situations.

[Updated at 11:58 a.m.:

Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times

Howard and Paul can become free agents by opting out of their contracts next July, putting pressure on Orlando and New Orleans to get something in return before the perennial All-Stars walk away for nothing. Orlando isn’t as desperate to unload Howard and would ask for quite the return in a trade with the Lakers, wanting Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant, according to a person familiar with Orlando’s thinking who was not authorized to speak. He appeared to be joking. Maybe.

The Lakers and Magic haven’t even spoken yet, despite media reports that the Lakers covet Howard and Paul.

The Lakers have had a conversation with New Orleans, though the possibilities of a trade were “not even close,” said a person familiar with the Lakers’ thinking.

Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom could provide fairly quick salary-cap relief for a willing team. Bynum is in his last guaranteed season with the Lakers, who hold a team option of $16.1 million next season. Odom is due to make $8.2 million next season but can be bought out for about $2.5 million.

For starters, though, the Lakers and Magic need to be talking about it to make a Howard deal happen.

Shannon J. Owens, Orlando Sentinel

I’d guess that Chris Paul is more likely to end the NBA season as a Laker than Dwight Howard.

I know, I know. That sounds crazy if you’ve been listening to the near two-year debate about Howard leaving the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers.

But consider this. The Lakers won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010 even without consistently amazing interior play from Andrew Bynum. The Lakers increased production only after re-signing point guard Derek Fisher at the start of the 2007-08 season.

The tandem of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant is good enough to counter for the lack of a dominant center, but their system (at least the one under Phil Jackson) relied heavily on outstanding perimeter play. Of course, that’s not to suggest they wouldn’t benefit greatly from Howard.

But in the end, Derek Fisher is on his way out and CP3 is on his way in.

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel 

With all due respect to Magic Johnson, it has always been about the man in the middle for the Lakers, from Mikan to Chamberlain to Abdul-Jabbar to Shaq to . . .


In fact, is there any doubt this is Shaq all over again? Up I-75 and a left on I-10.

Unlike with Chris Paul, the Lakers have a ready-to-go replacement part in the middle for the Magic in Andrew Bynum, who, went you get down to it, could emerge as the best center in the East.

 By contrast, it's not as if the Lakers are in any position to forward a replacement point guard to the Hornets without some complicated multi-team dealing.

For all the bluster of Howard to the Nets, the upside with Bynum is greater than the considerable lethargy displayed at times by Brook Lopez.

Orlando, of course, is growing tired of being bullied by the Lakers. But unlike when Shaq was lost, at least this time there will be a replacement part.]


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Left photo: Dwight Howard. Credit: Winslow Townson / Associated Press

Right photo: Chris Paul. Credit: George Nikitin / Associated Press

-       Shannon J. Owens, Orlando Sentinel