chris paul (clippers)*As stated in the opening narration of the great “L.A. Confidential,” the City of Angels is a supposed paradise – full of sunshine and opportunity as far as the eye could see.

However, if the reports coming from L.A.’s sporting scene are accurate, we might be  looking at a pair of truly remarkable roundball departures from this lovely, sunny city. The Lakers’ extraordinarily talented – but remarkably flaky (and oft-injured) – center Dwight Howard and the Clippers’ all-world point guard Chris Paul are both free agents this offseason, and the latest buzz has them freeing the coast for other destinations.

In Howard’s case, it’s probably a good idea for this divorce to happen now. Howard never really fit into L.A., and unless Kobe Bryant finds some type of genie in a bottle and Steve Nash discovers a Fountain of Youth in his backyard, the Lakers are in for a pretty steady period of decline. Howard can still dominate if he’s in the right situation, and the Lakers can’t offer that one. He should head somewhere else – Houston, for example, can offer him a complementary superstar (James Harden), a bunch of young talent and a bruising rebounder in Omer Asik. His hometown Atlanta team could pair him with Al Horford, and pose a true challenge to the Heat.

Chris Paul, however, should stick exactly where he is. Sure, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing with the Clippers – but there’s a ton of talent there. It just has to be harnessed and controlled by a decent coach. Vinny Del Negro was not a decent coach. Between Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, the Clippers have a core that can challenge Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Golden State in the West next year; a smart coach (Lionel Hollins, maybe?) could lead them right into the finals.

So, it’s simple. A moving truck for Dwight Howard, and a few more additions to the house for Chris Paul. The City of Angels will adjust. After all, there’s always the Dodgers. Right?