With Dwight Howard and Chris Paul eligible to be free agents in the summer of 2012 and unlikely to re-sign with the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets, respectively, their teams "are in a race" with one another to see which will trade its star to the Los Angeles Lakers for center prospect Andrew Bynum, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Paul's representatives have already informed Hornets GM Dell Demps that trading Paul will benefit all parties involved, and Wojnarowski says he believes Otis Smith, the Magic's President of Basketball Operations, will soon have a similar conversation with Howard's representatives.
The Lakers can offer Bynum, a 24-year-old behemoth of a center, likely the most talented player Orlando could receive in a trade package for its superstar. In 2010/11, Bynum averaged 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, and two blocks on 57.4 percent shooting, playing just 27.8 minutes per game. However, Wojnarowski notes the Chicago Bulls have also emerged as a contender for his services. He speculates the Bulls could offer Orlando center Joakim Noah and either small forward Luol Deng or power forward Carlos Boozer to anchor its rebuilding effort.
But David Baumann of Bright House Sports Network reported Saturday that Howard would stay with Orlando if Smith can swing a major trade for Paul, Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis, or "another NBA superstar." The report cites "one of Dwight Howard's closest confidants" who "wished to remain anonymous."
Baumann discussed his story in greater depth in a radio interview with Steve Kyler and Alex Kennedy on ESPN Florida. Kyler reports the Warriors have shown "more than a passing interest" in Magic free-agent guard Jason Richardson. Thus, a sign-and-trade transaction involving Richardson and Ellis is possible, though "far fetched," even if Orlando consented to take on the onerous contract of Warriors center Andris Biedrins in the deal.