In the early conversations after the Lakers semi-final exit against the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seems to be a given that Pau Gasol will be considered for possible trades. After all, had the NBA not interfered, he would have already been gone for Chris Paul (a move many believe would have kept the Lakers in the NBA playoffs, had it been allowed).
But what about Andrew Bynum? Should he be considered up for a possible trade? My answer is this: Please, God, yes, let the Lakers be open to trading Andrew Bynum.
I’m tired of the narratives I’ve heard for years about Andrew Bynum and the Lakers. The first narrative declared that if Andrew Bynum could just be healthy—watch out! After, the narrative became if Andrew Bynum could just get his focus, mind, and attitude right—watch out! And every time he played to his potential, media seemed to thrive on blaming Kobe Bryant for being too old or taking too many shots and if he’d just let the Bigs take over—watch out!
My response was always the same—Which Bigs?
The ones who are physically gifted enough to take over any game or the ones who only show up once in awhile?
Just this year, Andrew Bynum blamed a poor playoff performance on not preparing for the game. He said he wasn't ready. (For. The. Playoff. Game.)
Really? Who says that? And the worst part is it was probably the truth.
Andrew Bynum has spoken again, after the Lakers were bounced in the second round of the playoffs, saying that it doesn't really matter to him if he is traded.
And that is the problem with Andrew Bynum: He doesn’t always care.
You can argue that Kobe Bryant takes too many shots if you want. You can also point out that he is getting older and can’t do some of the things he used to do. But I challenge anyone to say that Kobe Bryant doesn’t care. I truly wonder if there is anything on this earth he cares about more than grabbing one more ring.
And he deserves that opportunity.
Forget talent for a moment. Kobe Bryant deserves to be surrounded by people who care as much as he does.
Chris Paul would have. There are others, too.
Kobe Bryant once defended the chip on Andrew Bynum’s shoulder. Shrewdly he knew it could possibly be used to benefit the Lakers.
Who would you be willing to trade?
I think the chip on Andrew Bynum’s shoulder only motivates Andrew Bynum’s self-interests. I believe others, like Kobe Bryant himself, have a chip on their shoulders that is wired against losing. It might motivate them to get their own rings, but with those rings come rings for their team.
I’ve seen nothing that proves to me that Andrew Bynum cares half as much about winning rings or even that he has a true belief and vision for what he might be able to do.
And I don’t feel like wasting the remainder of Kobe Bryant’s career trying to figure out if Andrew Bynum will ever care enough to play consistently.
If he will ever be, by his own word, ready.
We can wait another year or two or five and ask when Andrew Bynum might be ready, or we can start looking for someone else.
Someone who is ready right now.
Not just ready, but in the words of Lloyd Banks' song "Beamer, Benz or Bentley": Kobe Bryant ready.