Usually, columnists get silly with their pipe dream trade scenarios, but Bill Plaschke might be onto something here: The Lakers give up Bynum and Odom – two of their top four players – and in return get the league’s best center (Dwight Howard) and a shooter who might help solve their long-range issues (JJ Redick).
Before you scoff at the thought of Redick as a throw-in, consider this: the Lakers shot a laughable 15-for-76 from 3-point range (that’s 19.7%) against the Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. Redick is a career 39 percent 3-point shooter. With the amount of double-teams Gasol/Howard/Kobe would face, somebody’s going to be left open. Often.
So the Lakers will lose a crucial 6th man in Odom. Big deal? The Howard-Gasol combo would be unstoppable, since both men are skilled offensively. When was the last time a PF-C center each averaged 18-10? Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon 25 years ago?
The trade would also allow Pau Gasol to move permanently to power forward, where he’s always been more comfortable, while placing less pressure on the other Lakers to do the sort of dirty work that Howard loves. My favorite Howard statistic? Last season he led the league with 908 points inside five feet, 138 points more than his closest competitor.
The only reason Dwight Howard might balk at this: Gasol turns 31 next month, and Kobe turns 33 in August. (The lockout could actually help the Lakers – if you have a 50-game season, their old legs will be saved come June.) But a few problems remain: Mike Brown is the coach (yuck), Derek Fisher is no longer a capable point guard, and Ron Artest appears to have nothing left in the tank. So Howard’s title window would probably only be 1-2 years before LA needed to rebuild. Would Howard be better suited playing with Deron Williams in New Jersey? With Melo in New York? With Chris Paul somewhere?
As for the Magic … well, when your star says he’s leaving, you don’t wait around and lose him for nothing. Perhaps better offers will surface, but this one isn’t terrible. Magic fans need to come to grips with this: You can try and put together a faux-contender for a couple years, or you can just wipe the slate clean and start over. Suck it up: Take two more years of Gilbert, Hedo and Jameer Nelson, add Odom and Bynum to the mix, and then you have a blank slate. General manager Otis Smith gave it a shot, but he couldn’t pull it off (perhaps he can get together with departed Cavs’ GM Danny Ferry and the two can commiserate). Maybe you like what you see from Bynum. Maybe he has no health issues. Maybe you build around him?