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NBA: With Dwight Howard trade. Lakers unseat Oklahoma City Thunder as odds-on favorites to win Western Conference

BY JOHN ROHDE Modified: August 12, 2012 at 7:22 am •  Published: August 11, 2012

* Denver sent guard Arron Afflalo, forward Al Harrington and the lower of its 2014 first-round draft picks to Orlando.

* Orlando sent Howard, guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark to the Lakers and guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia.

Because Howard and Bynum are widely considered the top two centers in the NBA, the Lakers' upgrade at the position was not as significant as Nash becoming the franchise's best point guard since Magic Johnson.

"I think Steve Nash is going to help Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant a lot because they are going to be a much more athletic team on the fast break," Barkley said. "Dwight Howard is the most athletic big man in the NBA so he is going to work great with Steve Nash. Gasol is the best post-up big man in the NBA. The Lakers are loaded."

Shaquille O'Neal brought three straight world titles (2000-02) to LA after making the move from the Magic to the Lakers in 1996 at age 23.

"The pressure that he (Howard) has been feeling in Orlando has just multiplied by three now," O'Neal said. "The first thing the great (former Lakers general manager) Jerry West did when I signed with the Lakers is he walked me into the Forum and told me to look up. He showed me all the great big men that played before me and how many championships they won.

"The Lakers have a tradition of having great big men. He (Howard) has a lot of work ahead of him. If he thinks the Orlando Sentinel was on his case when he didn't perform, guys like (Los Angeles Times columnist) Bill Plaschke, they don't play."