Lakers shouldn’t trade Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol for Dwight Howard

By now, the two have become resigned to hearing their names in trade talks.

Pau Gasol spent all of last season wondering whether the latest practice or game would be his last as a Laker. Andrew Bynum spent all of last season indifferent to all of the proposals that would involve the Lakers’ trading him to get Magic center Dwight Howard. But never had there been any scenario suggesting the Lakers would trade both of their big men to acquire Superman.

Until now.

A Yahoo! Sports report indicates that the Magic, Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets are discussing a six-player in which Bynum would go to Philadelphia, Gasol to Orlando, Andre Iguodala to Denver and Howard to the Lakers. Meanwhile, the Lakers would also receive Nuggets forward Al Harrington and the Magic would receive Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo.

Bear in mind that The Times’ Broderick Turner and the original report both stated a deal isn’t imminent. But the idea of the Lakers’ trading both Gasol and Bynum to acquire Howard is absurd on so many levels.

Let’s start with this proposed deal itself.

Harrington may be a better three-point shooter then Gasol. The Lakers may be in dire need of outside shooting. And Harrington’s strength may solve the problem where Gasol felt underutilized as a facilitator because both Kobe Bryant and Bynum received more touches in the post. But Gasol exceeds Harrington in points per game, rebounding and passing, the last a quality needed in the Princeton offense.


Sure, such a deal could save the Lakers some money. Harrington has a three-year contract worth $21.4 million, and the last season isn’t guaranteed. Gasol is slated to make $38 million in the next two seasons. The Lakers are acutely aware of their finances, but they have indicated they are putting all of their chips in to win in the next few seasons. They acquired veteran guard Steve Nash in a three-year, $27-million deal. Although they signed Antawn Jamison to the veteran’s minimum ($1.4 million), he’s still a 36-year-old forward. They gave Jordan Hill a two-year, $7-million offer. And the Lakers declined to use the amnesty provision, which could’ve been used on Metta World Peace (two years, $15 million) or Steve Blake (two years, $8 million). Getting rid of Gasol now seems pointless, considering the Lakers already have a high payroll and are constructed to squeeze out a few more championships.

Regardless of whether this proposed deal is legitimate, it at least opens a philosophical discussion. Under no circumstances should the Lakers trade both Gasol and Bynum to land Howard.

Some may recall I advocated such a move before last season. But consider the different circumstances. Bynum hadn’t yet fully blossomed and hadn’t proved he could play a whole season without a major injury. So the Lakers’ making Bynum the sole centerpiece of a deal wouldn’t have worked. The Lakers also lacked a bench after shipping away Lamar Odom, and could’ve used part of such a deal acquiring more reserve pieces. It also seemed obvious that Gasol would have a difficult season handling the trade rumors and adjusting to a reduced role.

The Lakers have a different framework entering the 2012-13 season. Bynum is more developed and has more trade value. The Lakers have an elite point guard in Nash and will install the Princeton offense, variables that should enhance Gasol’s contributions. And the Lakers already have a better bench unit with the Jamison signing.

Lakers executive Jim Buss sounded amazed when he talked to The Times’ T.J. Simers about an Internet report last year that mentioned Orlando would trade Howard for both Gasol and Bynum.

“Where does this stuff come from?” Buss told Simers. “You’d have to be kind of silly to give up two All-Stars like that for Howard. Zero truth to it. We have never been asked for Andrew and Pau and we’ve never offered them. I think they know we’d either say no or they would sound crazy for asking.”

It turns out someone is sounding crazy for asking. So it’s critical the Lakers say no going forward. Their championship hopes depend on it.


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