If and when the Los Angeles Lakers trade Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum is ready, willing and able to benefit from the extra touches on the post. The Lakers' 23-year-old big man has only shown parts of what he's capable of. Moving Gasol will allow Bynum to reach his full potential.
Bynum is a classic big-body center who really needs the entire post area as his playground. With a dominating force like Kobe Bryant on the perimeter, it isn't necessary to have two major post players on the floor.
Without Gasol, Bynum would have free reign of the post area, and it will provide the spacing for him to operate freely. Right now, the Lakers run a lot of high-low, because Gasol is such a good passer—but Bynum would flourish in a system that spreads the floor, uses cutters and spots up shooters and Bryant off the dribble in isolations.
In the 2009-2010 season, Gasol missed 15 games with a shoulder injury. During that time, a healthy Bynum averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds. When Gasol returned, his production dipped to 13 points and six rebounds.
Bynum is an even better player now than he was then. If the Lakers make him the true man in the middle, his ceiling would be even higher.
Even Kobe Bryant recently admitted that the Lakers' scoring pecking order had changed in an ESPN article by Dave McMenamin:
"It seems like it's changed a little bit," Bryant said after the Lakers' 97-90 win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday. "Andrew is thirsty to score and he can score. He has more of a scorer's mentality [than Gasol], so we'll take advantage of that."
If you could only have one, which big man would you prefer in LA?
The Lakers have been moving in a direction that placed Bynum over Gasol all season, but there is still a struggle. Bynum has only had 14 or more field-goal attempts in seven games this season. In those games, he's averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Lakers are 5-2.
If Gasol is moved, the Lakers and Bynum will benefit from the new direction.
The direction couldn't come at a better time for Bynum. He is headed for free agency as the Lakers hold a team option for him next year for $16.7 million dollars.
If Gasol is moved and Bynum's play improves even more over his already All-Star level, he's in line not only to have that option picked up, but to also be offered an extension.
He could decline the extension, but that would be pretty dumb, considering he has been as rickety as a 30-year-old rocking chair throughout his career. It would be in his best interest to cash in after a healthy season.
This, of course, is contingent upon the Lakers not getting Dwight Howard, whom I think they still covet most of all.
As good as Bynum is, don't get it twisted. No team is settling for second-best if the No. 1 is attainable. The Lakers hold the option, so they can literally choose Howard without losing Bynum.
In a scenario that sees the Lakers landing Howard, Bynum will still become one of the two most sought-after free agents this offseason. Thus this season would be his audition for a max deal elsewhere.
Bynum still comes up peachy there as well. Any team in search of a dominant big would love to have Bynum if they can't get Howard.
If Gasol is traded, the Lakers will clearly be anchored by Bynum and Bryant for the rest of the season. That scenario clearly benefits Bynum now and in the future.