Now that Brooklyn Nets are once again facing difficulties facilitating a trade for Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic are keeping their eyes peeled for potential trades with other teams.
Orlando's best case scenario in trading Howard involves the Los Angeles Lakers. In return for Howard, the Magic receive the NBA's second best center, Andrew Bynum. The Lakers on the other hand, get the best center in the NBA. The swap for Bynum is the highest return value of any trade that the Magic have explored so far.
At 24 years old, Bynum is two years younger than Howard and seems to have not even tapped his full NBA potential yet. The 2011-12 NBA season was a breakout year for Bynum, in which he averaged a career best 18.7 points, 1.9 blocks, and 11.8 rebounds per game. Even though Howard had better 2011-12 averages in all major categories, Bynum played alongside NBA stars such as Pau Gasol and Kobe Byrant, while Orlando's star center was surrounded by the likes of Glen Davis, Ryan Anderson, and Jameer Nelson.
Bynum wasn't even the Lakers first scoring option this year, yet still managed to post great numbers at the center position. Even more impressive, he put up All-Star statistics while playing next to another seven-footer in Gasol, who averaged 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Given the chance to become the star player and first option on offense, Bynum could potentially be far better than many have anticipated.
The acquisition of Bynum would result in Orlando still remaining fairly competitive, despite entering an inevitable rebuilding process. The trade also gives them a player to build a team around, rather than starting from scratch. Star NBA centers are usually the hardest players to come by, and Orlando could begin structuring a new team without having to worry about the most difficult piece to acquire.
Howard's presence in Los Angeles would be invaluable in regards to completing Gasol's soft touch around the hoop. A defensive team of Bryant, Metta World Peace, and Howard would one of the best in the league.
Newly acquired Steve Nash would elevate Howard's game. The point guard is more than capable of throwing interior passes and alley-oops to the big man.
Howard could potentially experience growing pains if he is brought to Los Angeles. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has never teamed up with prolific a scorer Kobe Bryant or even another All-Star big man. However, having Nash on the roster might solve this problem because he can evenly distribute the ball to Los Angeles' potential star power.
A trade for Howard produces a Lakers team that becomes an absolute defensive matchup nightmare for any other team in the Western Conference. Double-teaming players in the paint becomes less realistic for teams, considering the deadly perimeter shooting of Bryant and Nash.
A trade of such proportions reshapes the power rankings of the NBA for years to come. The Eastern Conference witnesses the establishment of another dominant post player in Orlando and the Lakers get the opportunity to run wild in the West, with only the Oklahoma City Thunder as a realistically formidable opponent.
Many questions still linger around the option of trading Bynum for Howard. Is Bynum mature enough to become the face of an NBA Franchise? How will Howard manage to put up All-Star statistics next to Kobe Bryant and company? Does Orlando want to be the team that fuels another NBA star coalition in Orlando?
Nonetheless, the trade stands as the best offer for Orlando's Howard. It's up to the Magic to decide whether the organization wants to trade Howard for Bynum or a several role players and draft picks.