Where will Paul, Howard land now?
5-on-5: Sorting out the superstar trade landscape after Lakers deal called off -- again
The Chris Paul trade is off. Again.
So where will CP3 land now? How about Dwight Howard? To whom should the Lakers turn in their trade efforts?
We tackle the dilemmas facing two of the game's biggest superstars with a supersized 5-on-5 featuring six of our NBA voices:
1. What is the best landing spot for Chris Paul now?
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Los Angeles Clippers. He could throw lobs to Blake Griffin, live in Los Angeles and, believe it or not, upgrade owners. Yes, even Donald Sterling has never made a move as ridiculed as David Stern's actions as the de facto Hornets owner this week.
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: Los Angeles Clippers. He'd be lobbing alley-oops to two of the league's three most prolific dunkers and running point for a team built for the future.
Larry Coon, ESPN.com: They say fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. But at this point, I think I'm willing to let "Easy Dave" fool me a third time. I still think the Lakers make the most sense. And correct me if I'm wrong, but Stern said he wanted the Hornets to have younger players and picks -- and the Lakers now have flipped the oldest guy (Lamar Odom, 32) in the twice-aborted trade for a first-round pick.
If not the Lakers, I think the Clippers make the next-most sense. Minnesota's unprotected No. 1 pick, owned by the Clippers, would be a reasonable centerpiece for a deal.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: Los Angeles Clippers. Griffin would instantly become the best offensive player Paul has ever had at his disposal. Give him Griffin (a more explosive talent than David West) and DeAndre Jordan (a guy in the mold of Tyson Chandler), and that's all he needs. The last time Paul had a decent supporting cast, he carried his team within a game of the Western Conference finals. He could do even more in Los Angeles.
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Los Angeles Clippers. I completely understand GM Neil Olshey's reluctance to include Eric Gordon in a potential deal for Paul, but if he ever has a change of heart, Paul and Griffin would make for a dizzyingly good combination. Add in Jordan -- one of the top alley-oop targets in the league -- and Caron Butler, and the Clips would be prime for both the short and long term.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue and Gold: Assuming they can keep Gordon in the trade for CP3, the Clippers. A Paul-Griffin pick-and-roll becomes one of the most dangerous plays in the league, and Paul still gets to play in a big market with an up-and-coming team that can do serious damage in the seasons to come.
2. What is the best landing spot for Dwight Howard now?
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Los Angeles Lakers. He's expressed frustration at the Magic's inability to surround him with players. Why not go to the team with the best track record for acquiring talent, the latest example of which would be him?
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: Wherever Deron Williams lands in July 2012 -- be it Dallas, Brooklyn or Los Angeles. I'd still like to see Orlando pull victory from the jaws of defeat and find some way to keep Howard, but his desire to explore greener pastures seems irreversible.
Larry Coon, ESPN.com: It looks like it's down to New Jersey or the L.A. Lakers for Dwight, and if the CP3 trade is really dead, you have to assume Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is pursuing Howard with renewed vigor. Plus, if the Lakers are unloading Odom just because they don't want an emotional train wreck on their hands, they could do a lot better -- even on such short notice. The trade of Odom to Dallas feels like it's a prelude to something else.
That said, either the Lakers or Nets can give the Magic a young starting center, draft picks and salary relief.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: The Lakers. Howard seems hesitant to follow in the footsteps of Shaq by ditching Orlando for Hollywood, but why not travel down one of the most successful career paths ever? Give yourself a chance to win a few championships, build a dynasty and then make everyone happy by doing "Kazaam 2." It's his destiny.
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: New Jersey Nets. The Lakers might be positioning themselves to make a run at Howard, but the Nets would offer Dwight a brighter future. Williams could make a legitimate run at top PG honors with Howard as a teammate, and New Je -- er, Brooklyn would have a gaudy two-star core as the foundation of a long-time contender.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue and Gold: The Lakers. Dwight can compete for titles now next to Kobe Bryant and can be the foundation for future titles on the premier franchise in the league for years to come. Add in the "Hollywood" factor and Dwight's desire to expand his brand, and it's a natural fit that's difficult to duplicate with other teams.
3. Should the Lakers trade Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum for D12?
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Yes. And more yes. Even though it doesn't make mathematical sense to trade 14 feet for 7 feet, NBA logic says that if you can get one of the top players in the league, you do it. This wouldn't just give the Lakers a shot at winning now, but it would provide their foundation for life after Kobe.
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: Gut instinct says that if you can snag Howard, you pull the trigger. But the swap would effectively be Gasol and Bynum for Howard and whoever claims Gasol's projected 2,000-plus minutes. What if that player is some ghastly combination of Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace (both out of position) and Devin Ebanks?
Larry Coon, ESPN.com: No. They should trade one or the other, but not both. With Odom headed for Dallas, the Lakers won't have a starting power forward if they ship both Gasol and Bynum to Orlando. There are now only a couple of teams that are really in play for Dwight, and the Lakers likely need to beat only Jersey's offer.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: Yes -- and it's not even close. Howard is the game's best defender, is just 26 years old and has missed only seven total games in seven seasons. He provides the most bankable production of any player in the league. Bynum's potential is enticing and Gasol is great, but neither affects the game the way Howard does.
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Not if they plan on seriously vying for a title this season. Howard would be an incredible acquisition for the Lakers, but the Gasol-Bynum tandem is what really elevates L.A. into the contending ranks. Lose that pair, and the Lakers would be a very good -- but sub-elite -- team. That might still be good enough for the Lakers to earn the No. 2 seed in a middle-heavy Western Conference, but it wouldn't position them well for a long playoff run.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue and Gold: Depends on what they get back and whether there are any other teams involved. A trade of Gasol and Bynum for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu wipes out most of the Lakers' frontcourt and weakens them considerably. But if the Lakers can get back another starting-level big man, a starting-level point guard or another impact player, it would be worth it.
4. Better teammate for D12 over the next five years: D-Will or Kobe?
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Deron Williams. Even though Kobe has proved to be the best guard pairing for a big man since Magic Johnson threw entry passes to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, five years from now, Williams, age 27, still won't be as old as Kobe is right now (33).
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: If we consider both age and position, Deron Williams.
Larry Coon, ESPN.com: D-Will is a better teammate for Dwight than Kobe, because Kobe's prime is shorter and Deron's job will be to feed Dwight in the post. But it's not just about which is the better teammate for Dwight. It's about which is the better TEAM.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: Kobe. He is the far superior defender and has exhibited he knows how to co-exist with an elite low-post player. A D-Will/D-12 pick-and-roll would be devastating, but Kobe's game is more complete.
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Barring rapid advances in cybernetic technology, Williams. It's not close, and it's not debatable. Even Bryant's incredible will can't repel the natural effects of aging, and he'll begin to regress just as all great players do.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue and Gold: Deron Williams. He's younger, and he'll still be in his prime over that span. And while I expect Kobe to still be a good player in five years, there's no reasonable projection that has him being a better player than Williams at that point in their respective careers.
5. Will Lamar Odom win a third ring in Dallas?
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: No. The Mavericks won't be the same team that won the championship without Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea. And Odom is best suited to be a team's third-best player, not its second-best, which he very well could be in Dallas.
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: Afraid not.
Larry Coon, ESPN.com: The Mavs will be contending in the West again, but without Chandler in the middle, they will have a much tougher time reaching the Finals for the second year in a row.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: No. Odom's versatility is a welcome addition, but this is still a team that dodged the injury bullet -- and Father Time -- en route to a championship run last season. When adding a 32-year-old forward makes you significantly younger, there probably are some injuries ahead.
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Nope. Dallas certainly improves by adding Odom to the mix at virtually no cost, but the Mavs are still forced to lean far too heavily on the combination of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi to anchor their defense. That's not a bad pairing to have at center, but Haywood is inconsistent, Mahinmi is foul-prone and both are noticeably not Chandler.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue and Gold: I don't see it. I love Odom and think his versatility will allow him to be a great combo forward for the Mavs. But Dallas' defense was weakened with the Chandler trade, and the Mavs' future moves likely will focus on adding better guards, not shoring up their lack of interior D.