Forget Dwight Howard, the Lakers Need Deron Williams

Everyone thinks the Lakers want Dwight, and should. I think their guy should be DWill… and that they think so, too.

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Of course, the Lakers are still contenders, more or less, it’s a long time to March 15 and speculating on trades is looney tunes….

At least that’s what the Lakers are always telling us, before they withdraw to their sanctuary and engage in the same speculation.

So without further ado:

Where’s D-W-I-L-L?

Actually, Deron Williams is like the door prize next to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow named Dwight Howard, whom the Lakers have pursued and are expected to pursue again… at least by their fans, the press, et al.

Happily for the Lakers, I don’t think that’s what they’re thinking, with Jim Buss’s longstanding adoration of Andrew Bynum, who’s still healthy (nine games into the season) and better than he has ever been.

To me, their guy is D-Will, not Dwight, as I thought the most important guy was Chris Paul, when the Lakers dared to hope they could land Howard and CP3.

This isn’t the usual jibe at Derek Fisher, who did more than any player but Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal to win those five titles.

Nevertheless, Fisher is 37 and they no longer run the triangle, in which the point guard—or “initiator,” as Phil Jackson put it–made an entry pass, cut away and wasn’t likely to see the ball again unless he was open at the arc (where Fish knocked down 40 percent of his threes, at 36).

As slight as Steve Blake is, he could have gotten by starting in the triangle, now that his jumper has joined him in Lakerdom.

Unfortunately, the triangle is bye-bye, as is Kobe Bryant’s youth.

At this point, Kobe’s middle age may fly by, too, if they don’t get him help where it counts.

That’s not under the basket.

If you missed Friday’s game against the Warriors, it’s OK. The Lakers missed most of it, too, scoring 35 points in the first half and falling behind by eight in the third quarter.

Remember last season’s dead-ass team?

It’s b-a-c-k.

So, where did anyone think their huge (slow), experienced (old) roster was going, without a major move?

When things go badly, everyone gets huffy about the Lakers’ effort.
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In the real bad news, they’re trying. Their effort isn’t the problem, it’s their energy.

Look at last season’s starters, with four ages 36-32-31-30 plus Andrew Bynum, who may have been 23 but didn’t lead any fast breaks.

All were huge for their positions: Fisher at 6-1, 210; Bryant at 6-6, 215; Ron Artest at 6-7, 260; Pau Gasol at 7-0, 285; Bynum, 7-0, 285.

Bryant, Fisher and Artest were grinders. If Drew and Pau were a level down, we’re not talking about Kwame Brown-type sloths.

Now with Devin Ebanks starting — oops, make that Matt Barnes — the energy level is a little better, but it needed to get a lot better.

Worse, with no triangle to promote ball movement, they’re back to the days when Bryant, who still must make up for all shortfalls, sits on the ball so long something may hatch one night.

You think Kobe didn’t smack himself in the forehead when he heard David Stern had yanked CP3 out of that about-to-materialize Laker backcourt?

Paul would have run the floor, made plays for teammates and added leadership and energy that would have hit the franchise like adrenaline.

Best of all, CP3 would have given defenses something they had to eyeball before worrying about what to do if the ball went to Bryant.

Now it’s Kobe who’s being eyeballed, as he runs the floor, provides leadership and energy and tries to make up for all shortfalls.

If the Lakers get Howard, Kobe will still have to do all that stuff.

If D-Will isn’t the ball-stealer and penetrator Paul is, he’s a big-time floor general and a knock-down shooter (or was until being exiled to New Jersey, where he has made 35 percent).

Lakerdom is now warming to Bynum… after years of I-can’t-believe-they-didn’t-trade-him-for-Jason-Kidd-gave-him-that-$50-mill-deal, etc.

Of course, what’s not to like about 18.8 points, 15.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game?

I’ve been the Jim Buss of the press corps through Drew’s career, during which I’ve argued his merits with members of the coaching staff, opposing coaches, Lakers announcers and guys at my paper, whose names I’m withholding since they’re all guys I love.

At least for another paragraph.

It was Phil Jackson, Alvin Gentry, Mychal Thompson and Steve Springer.

It’ll be years before we know the bottom line on Bynum, when he leaves the Lakers, whether in a March 15 trade, or a farewell ceremony in 2020 when his number is retired.

In the meantime, everything will be decided as it always is, by “The Last Thing That Happens.”

Happily for the Lakers, if everything is equal, the fix is in upstairs.

Jim Buss fell in love with Bynum as part of the Laker delegation that worked him out before the 2005 pre-draft camp in Chicago.

(Of course, that was after Ronnie Lester saw Drew in an east coast workout and said they’d better take another look…. and before Ronnie was axed, along with most of the front office, ahead of last summer’s lockout.)

On the other hand, if Andrew gets hurt again…

Time will tell what happens, but in the meantime, I’ve seen the Lakers’ dream scenario – and Dwight Howard isn’t in it.

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