If Howard doesn’t pan out for LA, OKC Thunder center Nerlens Noel offers perfect fit

Nerlens Noel #3 of the OKC Thunder, (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nerlens Noel #3 of the OKC Thunder, (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder: Dwight Howard (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

If Dwight Howard deal doesn’t work for Lakers could OKC Thunder big man Nerlens Noel be the solution and if so, how could Sam Presti leverage LA for a suitable return?

For as much as the OKC Thunder got blindsided this offseason by the trade request of Paul George, it could be argued the deal that sent PG to the Clippers also blindsided the Lakers. Whether Leonard would’ve selected the Lakers or returned to the Raptors without the deal isn’t something fans are likely to ever get a definitive answer to. But, that one trade changed the direction of at least four teams (Thunder, Lakers, Raptors, and Clippers).

In hindsight, with DeMarcus Cousins recent ACL injury the Lakers will begin next season already needing to address issues in their frontcourt. Having invested so much money in LeBron James and Anthony Davis there wasn’t a lot of money remaining. Factor in all the youthful talent which exited to obtain Davis (Lono Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram).

Once Kawhi Leonard was off the table the Lakers invested in filling up their roster with free agents. That money got spread around by adding Danny Green (2-year, $30M), Rajon Rondo (2-year, $2.6M), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2-year, $16M), Jared Dudley (1-year, $2.6M), Alex Caruso (2-years, $5.5M), and Troy Daniels ( 1-year, $2.1M).

Two frontcourt players were added via the re-signing of JaVale McGee (2-year, $8.2M) and inking
DeMarcus Cousins to a one year, $3.5M deal. Now, with Cousins going down that doesn’t leave the Lakers with many options or money to address their needs.

This week the Lakers brought in a slew of available big men but none are players who’ll push them over the top or are able to score and rebound at the same level Boogie could. The two big men the Lakers were said to most focused on were veterans, Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. As of Friday, it appeared the man who impressed the most was Dwight Howard as per Shams Charania.