Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Realistic Trade Destinations for Andrew Bynum

Joel C. Cordes@@bballJoelNBA Associate EditorJune 6, 2012

Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Realistic Trade Destinations for Andrew Bynum

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    Andrew Bynum is the foundation, yet he also could fetch a lot of building blocks in return. The Los Angeles Lakers are about to experience one of those franchise-altering offseasons. 

    They just picked up Bynum's $16.1 million player option, but he has yet to sign an extension. This process is not about recovering from another second-round playoff loss to battle again next year.

    It's about building for the next 10.

    Bynum did all he could for the Lakers and his own trade value in 2012. The seven-year veteran averaged career highs in nearly every meaningful category. Most importantly, he stayed healthy for the vast majority of the season.

    As the second-best center in an NBA largely devoid of premier pivots, Bynum has entered the prime of his career at the ripe young age of 24.

    Sure, he has trouble even acting that age at times, but nearly every franchise would love to have this guy. There aren't a lot who could afford him though, and that's how the Lakers like it.

    Bynum should be the future. Yet, with few attractive trade options beyond Pau Gasol, and the team unwilling to discuss any scenario involving Kobe Bryant, the Lakers may have to sell high to buy.

    Pau Gasol may have all the buzz, but Andrew Bynum has the higher trade value; the Los Angeles Lakers don't have to push the panic button with these options.

Orlando Magic

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    If the Los Angeles Lakers are trading their supposed future, then they're obviously expecting their now and later in return.

    A few months ago, a Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum deal was supposedly not good enough for the Orlando Magic. After all, Howard was the best center in the league, and they felt like they could keep him.

    Orlando was so confident in their seller's position, they required Pau Gasol as a "throw-in." 

    Now? Andrew Bynum is no longer the "injury prone" side of the deal. Instead, it's Dwight Howard who had a disturbing loss of back and heart health at season's end. Howard has also yet to speak assuredly of staying with the Magic, despite the fact they sacrificed Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith.

    Not too long ago, this trade wasn't enough for Orlando. Now? Lakers fans might be the ones asking whether it's more than a lateral move.

    Howard supposedly balked at the idea, but this change of scenery could benefit both players. Bynum would become the sole face of a franchise. Howard would be rejuvenated while playing for a better-perceived "real contender" again.

Detroit Pistons

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    Before Los Angeles Lakers fans get all snooty and dismiss this as wild fancy, they might want to watch Greg Monroe play a little bit.

    Or maybe the numbers should do the talking. With just two seasons under his belt, Monroe is approaching where Andrew Bynum is at seven years later.

    In fact, ESPN's Player Efficiency Rating confirms what the other numbers do: Greg Monroe is providing more than 90 percent of Bynum's production for barely 20 percent of the price. Not only that, he can play either the 4 or 5, which is perfect for aligning with Pau Gasol.

    If Rodney Stuckey were somehow included to play point guard in the deal? L.A. should pull that trigger in a heartbeat!

    Lakers fans might momentarily balk on name recognition alone, but it's Detroit Pistons faithful who could be left wondering a few years from now.

Atlanta Hawks

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are freaking out at the prospects of being just another competitive also-ran.

    The Atlanta Hawks already are one.

    This idea was floating around last year, but they lost me at Kirk Hinrich. 

    Atlanta would love pairing a second wheel like Joe Johnson alongside Andrew Bynum and Al Horford in this deal. The Lakers need to get more athletic and find a push-the-pace point guard; this certainly addresses those two areas of greatest need.  

    Josh Smith is a fantastic two-way player who would be devastating when locked in alongside Kobe Bryant on L.A.'s big stage. However, Andrew Bynum is a franchise cornerstone, and Josh Smith has already proven he isn't. 

    I can live with that first deal, but here's one with a few bigger health question marks and a little less flash. Still, there are higher potential returns. 

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Once they were traded for each other. Now it might be time for them to play together.

    Pau and Marc Gasol obviously know how to coexist on the same team. Last time I checked, that Spanish National thing has kinda worked out with those two.

    In fact, whereas Marc used to be the afterthought, he's since turned into the bigger, tougher, more fiery version of the duo. Don't you think Pau would follow his little brother's example if he knew they had each other's back again?

    The real kicker in this deal is the long-term point guard solution provided for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The Memphis Grizzlies would find a lot to like too: flanking Andrew Bynum with Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay would create an even more frightening front line than they already possess.

    Los Angeles and Memphis have swapped big men before, and that seemed to work out well enough for everybody, didn't it?

Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls were hard up for Dwight Howard, but then he supposedly balked at that option too. Now? They could be building a smaller deal for Pau Gasol.

    Why not combine those two ideas into the best of both worlds?

    If the Bulls were considering a full farm sell for Howard, they would be foolish not to entertain the same thought for Andrew Bynum.

    The Bulls will be without Derrick Rose for a long stretch of the 2013 season. Their recent first-round ouster proved the current cast cannot keep them in contention. Rebuilding around Andrew Bynum could.

    Los Angeles Lakers fans might not feel like it's enough, but it sure beats simply swapping Pau Gasol for Carlos Boozer! In fact, the more one ponders this deal, the more attractive it becomes.

    While it is a downgrade at center, Joakim Noah's frenetic defense and offensive deficiencies pair perfectly with Pau Gasol. Luol Deng is a monumental upgrade over Ron Artest and Matt Barnes. At worst, even C.J. Watson is a lateral move from Ramon Sessions.

    These two teams should talk, but not about Pau Gasol. They both need to go big or go home.