Blake Griffin Lakers, The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly in talks to execute a blockbuster trade that would involve sending superstar Dwight Howard to the other side of Staples Center in return for Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe, ESPN reported via Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne on Saturday.
Their report cites "sources close to the process," and gives detail on the moving parts necessary to make such a deal even conceivable. In addition to the Lakers, the Boston Celtics are players in this scenario as well, speaking with the Clips about a transaction that involves moving Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers.
No one knows who these sources are, because they wouldn't be as candid if they lacked anonymity. But considering the pedigree of both Stein and Shelburne, two of the most reliable scribes in the business, there is certainly some merit to the report.
And then there's another A-list writer in Yahoo Sports' NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski who reported that such a deal is beyond far-fetched and that it would never happen. His sources are anything but optimistic that something will come to fruition.
There's a common perception that the Lakers and Clippers don't do a lot of business together by design, but if both beams saw a mutually-beneficial outcome in a possible sign-and-trade, they would only be doing due diligence to entertain it.
It comes down to one question: Which source is correct on this one?
Maybe neither. No one, potentially not even the teams' respective general managers, know what they're going to ultimately do in this situation. It likely will involve each organization going to their brain trust and having a long discussion about the implications.
Fortunately, there's plenty of time to speculate as to why each team would actually want to make this happen.
What's in it for each team?
The Lakers would rid themselves of the headache of the Dwightmare, however unfair it may be to label him as such. Howard might not have been himself from a production standpoint in 2012-13, but he played hard and hurt, which is more than they can say about Andrew Bynum when he clogged the middle for L.A.
Griffin and Bledsoe would be exciting players for the Lakers to bring in to be sure, but at what cost? Howard is a rebounding machine and a defensive stopper when he's right. He wasn't as healthy as he can be at any point last season, and it stands to reason that the Lakers would be reluctant to let another team reap the benefits of being patient with him.
In addition, Griffin is not known for his interior defense, and like Howard, lacks offensive polish. But he was still effective, leading the Clips in defensive win shares with 3.9 and is younger than Howard with what could be more good years ahead of him.
The real intriguing aspect and X-factor here is Bledsoe, who is a dynamic, athletic young guard who can provide youth and speed at the perimeter, something that is severely lacking from the current Lakers squad. What's more is there is no real means for them to alleviate that deficiency until the summer of 2014.
The Clippers would form a super-tandem in Howard and Chris Paul, something the Lakers almost did prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season before the NBA stepped in. A finally-healthy Howard teaming up with one of the best players in today's game for the cross-town rival? It's hard to envision the Lakers allowing that to happen.
How it could work
Drew Garrison of SB Nation did some digging of his own and broke down exactly how the Lakers and Clippers could manufacture such a transaction under the new, complicated landscape of the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement.
A sign-and-trade is the only real possibility and its viability depends on the tax threshold the NBA sets for the 2013-14 season. The Lakers can send Howard away, but the Clippers will have to stay within $4 million of that all-important ceiling, which was $70 million in 2012-13.
The Lakers have been mum on the subject, so it's up to everyone else to fill in the blanks.
They are in a state of disarray, and a swap of this magnitude deserves a real look because it would at the very least shake things up in a big way. It could be something that both teams ultimately decide is in their best interests moving forward, especially if the Lakers receive further compensation in the way of draft picks.
Either way this goes down, it will give someone's coveted sources legitimate credibility.
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