In the belated second edition of ‘Have Ya Heard’, SP discusses the situation faced by Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. He also explains why the Los Angeles Lakers should bury the hatchet and trade Pau Gasol.

By now I’m sure most NBA fans are aware that the trade deadline is right around the corner. This is often an exciting time for some, and a stressful time for others. Much like apocalyptic conspiracy theories or mid-flight turbulence, the trade deadline tends to cause a lot of short term chaos but ultimately concludes as a significant letdown (which in the case of apocalypses and airplane disturbances we can be thankful for).

This year however some top-shelf talent is available, with one player in particular, Dwight Howard, who could single-handedly change a teams fortunes for years to come.

The situation in Orlando is a sticky one. According to league sources the Magic will spend the next 48 hours looking to acquire help for Dwight to try and convince him to stay, and failing that, they’ll trade him to the team with the most enticing package.

There’s no doubt that if the Magic organisation had it their way, Dwight Howard would retire with the club. However, they are faced with a situation much like the Denver Nuggets were 12 months ago. Last season Carmelo Anthony made it known to the world that he had his heart set on playing in the big city, and the Knicks for some reason made it known that they would be willing to do just about anything to get him. Ultimately both sides won out; Melo packed his bags for the big apple, and the Denver Nuggets acquired pretty much every valuable trade asset the New York Knicks had to offer.

Like Anthony last year, Howard’s intentions are clear. While he hasn’t repeatedly mentioned a particular location that he’d like to spend the remainder of his career, the one thing he has stated is that he wants to be in a situation where he can compete for championships for years to come, whether that be with the Magic or any other club in the league, he really doesn’t seem to care.

If by the eleventh hour Orlando can’t find a suitable trade partner to either keep Howard in Orlando, or keep Orlando within contention, why move him at all? The NBA is one league where you never want to be stuck in the middle, and so far every trade I’ve seen that has Howard leaving Orlando, has brought back a bunch of players that will keep Orlando in the NBA’s purgatory of mediocrity for years to come. If you can spend a season stuck in last place, it often doesn’t take long before you’re back on top, just ask anyone in Oklahoma City. If the Magic’s best offer they receive is Andrew Bynum or Brook Lopez, I’d hold on to Dwight, make one last run at a title and hope for the best come free agency.

Another player who for whatever reason has repeatedly been popping up in the rumor mill is Pau Gasol. Pau obviously took it to heart when the Lakers made it clear they had no issue in moving the big Spaniard, and as a result his on-court production has taken a slight hit. However, one thing I’ve learned in my time watching NBA is that it never makes sense to trade big for small, and in the offseason the Lakers attempted to do just that by sending out both Gasol and Odom in a deal that would have landed them Chris Paul.

Since the nixed deal back in December, Gasol has repeatedly been talked about in the media as someone who could very likely be moved in an effort to bring another title to Tinseltown. But would this make sense? Probably. During last season’s playoff series with the Hornets, Kobe said it himself that Pau was his “go-to guy”, and that the Lakers “need him in order to be successful”, but when the going got tough earlier this year, he expressed his indifference to Pau’s presence stating something along the lines of “If you’re going to trade him, trade him… Just get it over with.”

As a result of the aforementioned Chris Paul trade, Los Angeles have a very good idea what the Houston Rockets would be willing to give up in return for Pau Gasol (pretty much their entire starting unit). And if the Lakers can land a deal along the lines of Scola, Martin, Dragic with a 2012 first round pick, I see no reason why they shouldn’t do it. This trade addresses two of the Lakers biggest weakness heading in to the post-season: 1) Their bench sucks. 2) They have very few scoring threats outside of Kobe.

If Los Angeles were able to land the package that Houston originally sent to New Orleans, they would be swapping out Gasol for a slightly more consistent, but slightly less productive Scola. Which as a straight up swap, makes no sense, but for the opportunity to bring in a pure scorer like Kevin Martin to play with your second unit at the expense of someone who contributed so little in the Lakers previous post-season run, not only would it improve their bench significantly enough to allow for short term success, but it would also extend the career of the Lakers’ future Hall of Famer who is probably one bad injury away from calling it a day.

To read more of SP’s stuff, check out his blog at Hoop Downunder


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