Lakers will pursue both
There's a chance both could land there, which begs another question: Wasn't the new collective bargaining agreement supposed to promote more competitive balance and limit players' power over movement? Oops.
Chris Paul is the more likely option since he has already told Hornets management he won't sign an extension. No team can afford to lose a player of Paul's value for nothing.
Though massive speculation exists that Dwight Howard will reach the same conclusion, there is no official word from Howard or the Magic to this point yet.
The Lakers aggressively will enter both sweepstakes in an attempt to get younger and more athletic.
Fisher out, Paul in
Shannon J. Owens
I'd guess that Chris Paul is more likely to end the NBA season as a Laker than Dwight Howard.
That sounds crazy if you've been listening to the near two-year debate about Howard leaving the Magic for the Lakers.
But the Lakers won titles in 2009 and 2010 even without amazing interior play from Andrew Bynum. The Lakers only increased production after re-signing point guard Derek Fisher at the start of the 2007-08 season.
The tandem of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant is good enough to counter for the lack of a dominant center, but their system, at least under Phil Jackson, relied heavily on outstanding perimeter play.
In the end, Fisher is on his way out and CP3 is on his way in.
Howard is next Shaq
With all due respect to Magic Johnson, it has always been about the man in the middle for the Lakers, from Mikan to Chamberlain to Abdul-Jabbar to Shaq to ... Howard.
Unlike with Chris Paul, the Lakers have a ready-to-go replacement part in the middle for the Magic in Andrew Bynum, who, once you get down to it, could emerge as the best center in the East.
By contrast, it's not as if the Lakers are in any position to forward a replacement point guard to the Hornets without some complicated multi-team dealing.
Orlando, of course, is growing tired of being bullied by the Lakers. But unlike when Shaq was lost, at least this time there will be a replacement part.
Lakers, Magic need to talk
Los Angeles Times
Howard and Paul can become free agents by opting out of their contracts next July, putting pressure on Orlando and New Orleans to get something in return before the perennial All-Stars walk away for nothing. Orlando isn't as desperate to unload Howard and would ask for quite the return in a trade with the Lakers, wanting Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant, according to a person familiar with Orlando's thinking who was not authorized to speak. He appeared to be joking. Maybe.
Bynum and Lamar Odom could provide fairly quick salary-cap relief for a willing team.
For starters, the Lakers and Magic need to be talking about it to make a Howard deal happen.