Yesterday, we discussed how reality is beginning to set in for the Lakers. A reality that screams that the Lakers are not a good basketball team at the moment. We also discussed that Steve Nash isn’t very optimistic that this team will get any better this season. And it may take another summer together to get to that point.
But of course, some don’t want to wait that long and are searching for a fix now. That’s where Vincent Bonsignore of the LA Daily News comes into all of this.
Bonsignore wrote a column on Wednesday urging the Lakers to “think out the box”. And for Bonsignore, thinking outside the box involves trading Dwight Howard to the Mavericks for Dirk Nowitzki.
To lay out his case, Bonsignore first jumps into the similar states that the Lakers both find themselves in.
If the season ended today, Dallas would be out of the postseason.
And that doesn’t sit well with Nowitzki, who never imagined himself sacrificing his remaining prime years for a terrible team – especially after climbing to the top of the mountain just two years ago after beating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Nowitzki’s frustration boiled over recently when he publicly questioned the team’s direction.
[….] Nearly 1,400 miles away in San Antonio, the Lakers were falling further into their own abyss, like the Mavericks just another recent champion scrambling to find their way back to elite company.
Bonsignore then attempts to convince Nowitzki that such a trade could actually work.
I pointed that out to Nowitzki. I also pointed out how his skill set would fit perfectly with the Lakers in Mike D’Antoni’s system and alongside point guard Steve Nash, whom he made beautiful music with back in the day as Dallas teammates.
The more I continued the wider Nowitzki’s smile grew. He knew exactly where this train was headed and wanted to slam on the brakes before it barreled any further down the tracks.
And before I started fitting him for a Lakers jersey.
“I mean honestly, I’d never allow myself to even think about something like that,” Nowitzki said, laughing.
I then reminded him how his buddy Nash said pretty much the same thing about playing for the Lakers last summer – only to ask the Suns to trade him to Los Angeles a week later.
“It’s funny how business works,” Nowitzki conceded.
And then, Bonsignore cuts to the chase.
But when you think about it, if your aim is brilliance it takes a fair share of crazy to get there.
And when you stop laughing at the thought of Nowitzki playing for the Lakers and start thinking about how much sense it makes for everyone involved, the unimaginable actually becomes plausible.
How, you ask?
By trading Dwight Howard to the Mavericks for Nowitzki.
By rolling the dice on Nowitzki paired with Nash paired with Kobe Bryant paired with Pau Gasol creating the kind of perfect amalgamation for D’Antoni’s system.
By understanding that combination gives the Lakers a better chance to compete for a championship over the next two years, not the team we see flailing about with mismatched parts trying to fit into a system it’s not built to succeed in.
And by accepting you’re going to have to blow things up in two years anyway, and with Gasol and Bryant and Nowitzki’s contracts all expiring after the 2014 season the Lakers will go into that summer with enough cap space to add at least two dynamic young stars.
Finally, by admitting Howard might not be the ideal piece to build around moving forward and by dealing him now – and adding the perfect part for D’Antoni’s offense while preserving cap space in 2014 – you’re making proper use of an asset.
A pretty good case is made here by Bonsignore, but a few points must be made about all this. For one, one of the Lakers’ biggest problems is that they can’t guard anyone. Even with one of the best backline defenders in the league, though not 100%, they still suck on defense. Adding Nowitzki makes it worse. And secondly, Dwight Howard is seen as the piece to build around after Kobe Bryant retires. Yes, there will be cap space if you ship him off, but then you’re only hoping that you can lure a big name to Los Angeles. Granted that isn’t a tough feat, but it probably won’t be the best center in the league that’s for sure.
So while Bonsignore makes a good case, the gamble is just too high for the Lakers.