As the All-Star break approaches, it seems like a good time to take another look at the trades most of us thought would dramatically reshape the Western Conference this season.

The four-team deal that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers was supposed to make Los Angeles the team to beat in the West. After all, the Lakers also had convinced Steve Nash to sign in free agency.

What could go wrong with a starting lineup featuring five players who have been All-Stars at various times in their careers, and two of them former MVPs?

Now we know.

Three coaches (don’t forget interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff), several injuries and countless crises later, the Lakers will begin today’s nationally televised game against the defending champion Heat three games under .500 and in 10th place in the West.

Howard has an injured shoulder and a bruised ego, and nobody is really sure which is more damaging to the team’s well being.

Pau Gasol’s feelings have been hurt, too, but everyone is sure his torn right plantar fascia is, for the moment, a bigger concern.

A post-All-Star surge into the playoffs that seemed plausible just a week ago now looks like a pipedream for even the most optimistic of those who bleed purple and gold.