COMMENTARY | In news that shouldn't surprise anyone, reports out of Southern California are that superstars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard want to play together on the same team. This idea isn't a novel one in the new landscape of NBA stars joining forces.
But this has bigger implications for the Los Angeles Lakers -- it could save their franchise from years of uncertainty.
That's because most likely scenario that would have Paul and Howard joining forces would involve a sign-and-trade with Howard going to the Clippers. The best part of that deal for the Lakers, however, would be the fact that the Clippers would likely have to send their Staples Center co-tenants Eric Bledsoe and Blake Griffin across the hall in return.
According to the report first disseminated via ESPN.com, which cites "league sources," the two NBA icons would ideally play together in Los Angeles for the Clips. If that happens, the Lakers would solve several of their biggest problems.
No more Dwightmares
The Dwightmare would no longer be the Lakers' problem, and neither would his injury concerns. General manager Mitch Kupchak has been clear on the Lakers' desire to re-sign Howard, but such an offer would be one that he couldn't afford to ignore. The way Howard unceremoniously finished his first season in L.A. with a playoff ejection left a bad taste in the mouths of many of the purple-and-gold faithful.
Bledsoe and Griffin are two of the most athletic players in the NBA, which would fill a substantial void the Lakers have had for several years. Their transition defense has been near-abysmal, and each would provide an instant upgrade in that area, especially Bledsoe on the perimeter.
Blake Griffin -- the lesser of two "evils"
Griffin gets a lot of criticism for being soft and shying away from contact. He's been a marketing dream for the NBA, but many feel he doesn't deserve the attention or hype because his production hasn't warranted it. That's the worst he's done.
And then there's Howard, who single-handedly held the Orlando Magic hostage as he wavered on his future plans for the better part of an entire season. He sabotaged his coach and displayed plenty of immaturity when he was in purple-and-gold with his antics.
To top it all off, he had surgery, on his spine, and will likely never be the dominant force he once was.
Which player would the Lakers be better-served to take a chance on?
A brighter (and more entertaining) future
Rather than Howard, who's leadership potential is balky at best, the Lakers would get two players, who, at the very least are more valuable trade assets if things don't work out either systematically or personnel-wise.
But they would instantly bring a real version of Showtime back to the Lakers' home floor, and that's been missing for years. And they'll have plenty of talent around them. Pau Gasol could go back to playing his natural position at center, and if Mike D'Antoni shows a willingness to play through the post and feature his four and five together inside, they'll have a roster more suited to run his system.
The Clippers have reportedly cited Griffin as untouchable, but if making Paul happy is a priority, then they may entertain such a deal.
One thing is certain, with the Lakers being as handicapped as they are with salary cap issues, injuries and aging stars, any deal that solves most of that conundrum has to be given serious consideration.
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Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a Southern California-based sports journalist and editor. He contributes to SB Nation in addition to Yahoo! Sports and is the Managing Editor and Founder of Sports Out West.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Blake Griffin
- Chris Paul