Dwight Howard's name has been in trade rumors for months. Most recently, the center has been linked to the Lakers.
Los Angeles and Orlando officials are discussing a possible deal that's would send Howard to L.A. Andrew Bynum would likely go to the Magic in such a deal, unless a third team gets involved and acquires the big Lakers big man.
Howard has made it clear that he wants to go to Brooklyn, but a trade with the Nets seems highly unlikely. The Rockets and Hawks are also pursuing the All-Star, but the Lakers seem to be the most likely destination for him.
If Los Angeles can acquire Howard for Bynum, they would immediately become the best team in the NBA.
The Heat won the championship this past season, and are still considered the favorites to win it all in 2013. The online betting Web site sportsbook.ag puts Miami's odds of repeating at 2/1. With their current roster, L.A. is listed at 8/1.
Miami still has the best player in the NBA in LeBron James, but Howard would give Los Angeles a better team overall. The Heat have two great players, in James and Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh is good, but nowhere near the level of his two teammates. Ray Allen recently signed with Miami, and he gives the Heat their best fourth option since the Big Three was formed.
While the Heat have two upper echelon players, Howard would give the Lakers three legitimate MVP candidates. Howard, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant all finished in the top nine in voting for the award this past year.
Bryant is still one of the top players in the league. He came dangerously close to beating out Kevin Durant for the scoring title in 2012, averaging 27.9 points per game. Bryant has been criticized for not being the same player that he once was, but he averaged more points last season than he had in the previous three years.
Steve Nash is 38 years old, but he's still a top point guard. Nash almost led a depleted Suns team to the playoffs in 2012, averaging 12.5 points and 10.7 assists per game. The Lakers have had tremendous success in the past decade without a great point guard. Now, they have one of the best of all time.
Howard is unequivocally the best big man in the NBA and Pau Gasol is also high on the list. While a lot of teams have three really good players, the Lakers would have four.
Unlike the Heat, the Lakers players complement each other. Nash, Howard, Gasol and Bryant all play different positions. James and Wade are great, but they are essentially the same type of player. The two made it work on their way to winning a title, but sometimes had difficulty playing at the same time.
Acquiring Howard would also make Los Angeles better than Oklahoma City. OKC lost to Miami in the NBA Finals, and have the second-best odds of winning the 2013 title at 3/1. The Thunder beat the Lakers in five games in the second round of the postseason, but the new-look Lakers would make that a completely different series.
With Howard in the middle of that defense, Russell Westbrook would have a much more difficult time getting to the basket. Having Nash at the point would prevent the Lakers from struggling on offense as much as they did.
L.A. is willing to trade for Howard, even if he doesn't commit to signing with them long-term. They don't want to take on the contract of either Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardon, which theMagic are pushing. Orlando is also leery of dealing for Bynum, who won't guarantee that he'll sign a contract extension with the Magic.
If the Lakers are able to pull off this trade, the rest of the league could be in for a rude awakening. L.A. might not be dominant for years because of their age, but they'd certainly have a great shot at winning a championship in 2013.