While all of the attention over the past few days focused on the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers has been on the apparent desire of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard to team up, there’s an overlooked trade scenario which would be even more beneficial for both teams.
The Lakers need a point guard that can control the game with his ball-handling, play adequate on-ball defense, and score when called upon to do so. Steve Nash was tapped to fill this role, but with his ailing health, the Lakers must look to available options, and to the future. The Clippers need a dominant force down low which could supplement Blake Griffin on the offensive end and also help guys like DeAndre Jordan become an even greater force on the blocks on the defensive end.
So here’s the scenario:
The Lakers trade Dwight Howard to the Clippers to provide them the inside presence they need so badly — and allowing him to team up with Chris Paul — in return for shipping point guard Eric Bledsoe and combo forward Blake Griffin to the Lakers.
Why does this work?
The Clippers would need to lock Howard into a new deal which, over one season, would require at least $19 million in pay– and likely more. The projected cap hit to add Bledsoe and Griffin to the Lakers’ roster would be around $19.9 million. This is about as close as you can get in generating an equitable trade, at least in terms of finances.
The equity isn’t just on the financial end. Eric Bledsoe is one of the more talented young point guards in the NBA, averaging 8.5 points per game, 3.1 assists per game and 3.0 rebounds per game in around 20 minutes a night backing up Chris Paul. In extended minutes, Bledsoe’s numbers would be on par with most starting point guards in the league, and a definable upgrade for a Lakers team that struggled to find consistent production at the point this season.
Bledsoe would also have a first-class mentor present in Steve Nash, given he decides to play one last season at the Staples Center. Nash is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, period. It’s hard to imagine a better situation for a guy like Bledsoe who is on the right path as it stands.
The Lakers had issues throughout the season on the boards and making their presence felt on the blocks. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were decent at times, but neither lived up to what was expected of them in terms of overall production. The Lakers owe Gasol about what they would owe Bledsoe and Griffin together, so, for the scenario to work they would have to unload his contract one way or another — far from an easy task, as they have already found out.
Without Gasol or Howard present for the Lakers, the impetus would be placed on Blake Griffin to become more of a traditional, down-low forward, something he hasn’t had to do yet in his career but of which is capable. It’s intriguing to say the least.
DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul would welcome the arrival of Dwight Howard to the Clippers with open arms, and his addition could be just what the Clips need to get over the hump and see their talent come to fruition.
You’re likely to hear the Clippers and Boston Celtics scenario dominate the Internet in coming days, but don’t assume it’s the only feasible scenario for LA’s resident teams.