Where the Lakers go from here

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - William Shakespeare once wrote a play called "All's Well That Ends Well."

I don't think he was writing about the Los Angeles Lakers.

All is certainly not well in LakerLand following the team's Western Conference second-round loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who disposed of the 16-time world champions in just five games.

It looks like changes are coming for the Lakers, and, as usual, it should have a big impact on the fantasy world.

Coach Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant are probably safe, but the future isn't as certain for the rest of Los Angeles' All-Star cast.

Pau Gasol's name has been floating around in dozens of trade rumors over the past year. Expect those rumblings to intensify this offseason.

Los Angeles also needs to make a major decision about Andrew Bynum's future. Should Bynum be the cornerstone of the post-Kobe Bryant Lakers or is he too high maintenance? It's no secret that the L.A. front office hasn't been thrilled with Bynum's arrogance and Manny Ramirez-like lack of effort over the past few months.

The Lakers also might be looking for a new point guard. Certainly, Ramon Sessions (acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline) was an upgrade over the aging Derek Fisher, at least from a productivity standpoint. But his inconsistent play in the postseason (9.7 ppg on 37.7 percent shooting) raised plenty of doubts about whether he can really be the team's long-term solution at this position.

Gasol seems the most likely to be dealt, given his age and declining skill set. He watched his average fall from 18.8 ppg last season to just 17.4 ppg in 2011-12, the lowest total of his 11-year NBA career.

But what's really concerning is Gasol's lack of production in the postseason over the past two seasons. After tallying 19.6 ppg and 11.1 rpg during the Lakers' title run in 2009-10, Gasol has only managed 12.8 ppg in 22 playoffs games since then while collecting fewer than nine rebounds per contest (8.7).

While those numbers could reduce Gasol's trade value somewhat, he was still able to produce the second-highest rebounding average of his career (10.4 rpg) during the regular season and there are plenty of teams that would kill for a seven-footer who can shoot the ball like Gasol. The Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves were all interested in Gasol before the trade deadline and should be in the running for him again once the offseason gets fully underway.

Out of these possible destinations, playing in Houston would probably do the most to help Gasol's fantasy value. Kevin Martin (17.1 ppg) and Luis Scola (15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) are decent players but neither has the superstar upside that Gasol has, which means the 31-year-old would probably be looked to as the team's No. 1 scoring option.

Scola could move over to the five and play as an undersized center (he's only 6-foot-9) or Gasol himself could move to that position. Either way, Marcus Camby's presence doesn't figure to hurt Gasol's playing time, given his age (38) and complete lack of usefulness on the offensive end of the court (4.9 ppg last season).

It also would be a terrific trade for the Lakers, who can solve their point guard conundrum by prying away Houston's Kyle Lowry. The Rockets weren't willing to part with Lowry (14.3 ppg, 6.6 apg) earlier in the year, but that was before Goran Dragic (16.3 ppg, 7.3 apg after the All-Star break) blew up in the second half of the season.

Minnesota came very close to moving disgruntled forward Michael Beasley to Los Angeles at the trade deadline so that also could be an option for the Lakers. Whether the Lakers want two headaches on their team (three if you include the always unpredictable Metta World Peace) is up to management, but Beasley does have plenty of scoring potential (19.2 ppg for the Timberwolves in 2010-11).

Beasley could slide over to power forward in Gasol's place (at 6-10, he's definitely tall enough), or he could stay put and compete with World Peace (career-low 7.7 pgg this season) for the starting small forward position, a battle Beasley would probably win.

After averaging just 11.5 ppg in 47 games for Minnesota this past season, it's clear the forward needs a change of scenery. A move to Los Angeles could be essential to Beasley's fantasy revival.

The problem here is that Gasol isn't a great fit for the Timberwolves. He plays the same position as budding fantasy ace Kevin Love (26 ppg, 13.3 rpg) and Nikola Pekovic (13.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is an emerging star at center.

Gasol could find his way into the starting lineup, but Pekovic will still be the team's long-term solution at center. Overall, Minnesota doesn't seem like an environment that Gasol would thrive in.

The move the Lakers should really be trying to pursue, however, is a Dwight Howard-for-Bynum trade.

It makes sense for both sides. Howard is probably on his way out of Orlando anyway and Bynum (career-high 18.7 ppg and 11.8 rpg this season) is the best possible center the Magic could receive in return.

Howard craves the spotlight, so he'd fit right in in L.A. Plus, cutting Bynum and his combative personality loose will allow the Lakers to focus on winning a championship instead of getting distracted by unneeded drama.

Keep in mind that three of Kobe's five rings came alongside the most dominant center in the game at that time, Shaquille O'Neal. The Howard/Bryant duo could be just as dangerous.

If Howard can still put up 20.6 ppg and a league-leading 14.5 rpg in a season when he had back trouble and his heart wasn't in it, imagine the kind of stats he could put up playing in a place where he knows he'll have a shot at a championship.

Who knows what will unfold, but if the Los Angeles starting lineup in October looks the same as it did in May, I will be one very surprised fantasy sports writer.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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