NBA Free Agency 2012: Why the LA Lakers Need to Pursue a Smith-Gasol Swap

With the Jordan Hill signing, the Los Angeles Lakers look like the biggest threat to Oklahoma City supremacy (via ESPNLosAngeles).

The Lakers now have a frontcourt group of Andrew Bynum, Hill, Antawn Jamison and Pau Gasol.

L.A.'s biggest weakness now? The small forward position.

Not only do the Lakers lack a quality starter (Metta World Peace is the current one), but there really is no depth at the position.

Instead of keeping their current roster, the Lakers should once again attempt to trade Pau Gasol for the one and only Josh Smith.

While he plays a lot of power forward for Atlanta, Smith is more effective at the 3, and would be a welcome addition to a Lakers team that could use some more youth. 

He is an outstanding defensive presence, which would also keep Mike Brown, a defensive guru, happy. 

A lineup of Nash-Bryant-Smith-Jamison-Bynum would be the best in the league, while also providing matchup problems for the Miami Heat.

Smith could definitely defend LeBron James, making it harder for the MVP to score at will against the Lakers. Don't get me wrong, the Atlanta forward would not be able to completely shut down James, but he could make life harder for him.

Not only does this trade make sense from a basketball sense, but it also does for the big picture.

Dwight Howard, the Lakers' major trade target, is very close to Smith. In fact, the Orlando superstar was the best man at Smith's wedding.

While D-12 has said that he plans to test his free agency in 2013, picking up one of his best friends would be likely the best the Lakers could do to retain him.

If Howard does not stay even after Smith is on the team, it is likely that D-12 would never join the team. 

In this way, the Smith acquisition not only makes sense for the team without Dwight Howard, but it enhances their chances of keeping the center if the ...

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