Even after the storied Los Angeles Lakers picked up Dwight Howard this past offseason, the rumor mill has continued to churn with stories and reports about the possibility of the talented center choosing to play elsewhere next season.
In just the last few days, rumors of Howard choosing not to re-sign with the Lakers this offseason have really heated up. One report from Stephen A. Smith had Howard talking to Rudy Gay about playing for the Brooklyn Nets next season.
Naturally, people are starting to speculate about whether or not the Lakers would trade the all-star center. They can hang on to him this week and risk having him walk for nothing in a few months. Or, they could shop the big man before Thursday's trade deadline.
The possibility of Howard walking as a free agent isn't the only reason the Lakers should seriously consider seeing what they can get out of this year's trade market. The pieces of the current Lakers puzzle just don't seem to fit.
As much as Howard, Kobe Bryant and Mike D'Antoni insist otherwise, it's pretty easy to see that there is at least some validity to all the reports about personality clashes and differences of opinion.
If chemistry hasn't developed for this team after being together since August of last year, it's not likely to happen between now and the playoffs. The Lakers need to do something drastic to start a real push for the eight seed in the western conference.
This is where Josh Smith comes in. Like Howard, Smith has been surrounded by rumors since long before this season even started. There's a chance the Hawks will move him before this Thursday's deadline and a lot of teams are interested.
When my brother recently mentioned the possibility of a Dwight Howard for Josh Smith and Kyle Korver deal, I couldn't help but wonder why the Lakers wouldn't be one of those teams interested in the Hawks versatile forward.
The addition of Korver in the deal makes it work financially and his three-point shooting alone makes him an upgrade over the ever-declining and irrationally confident Metta World Peace (and just imagine Kobe kicking it out to Korver on the perimeter instead of MWP). A lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Pau Gasol would be balanced and potent offensively and Bryant, Smith and Gasol would keep them competitive on the other end of the floor.
There is certainly some risk for both sides involved with this swap. Neither Smith nor Howard are guaranteed to re-sign this summer. However, ditching the Howard headache would be a major stress reliever for the Lakers and adding Howard at least gives the Hawks a chance at a future beyond the middling playoff team they've been for the last few years (Howard is from Atlanta, so maybe they could sell him on that).
Right now, the Lakers are in serious jeopardy of missing the postseason. That's something almost no one could have expected after all the excitement surrounding their huge offseason. They can either continue down the path they're on (good chance of missing the playoffs and losing Howard), or take another risk by changing course.