According to ESPN.com, the Brooklyn Nets are on the verge of completing a blockbuster four-team trade that will bring Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard to New York, and end all fantasies of a Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Howard grouping in Los Angeles.
As recently as last week, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Howard was firmly on the Lakers' radar, and quite possibly the favorite to land the superstar center in a trade for center Andrew Bynum. But according to CBS Los Angeles, Bynum has no interest in signing a long-term deal with Orlando.
So if the Howard-to-Brooklyn deal goes through, the Lakers will likely enter the 2012-13 season with Bynum as the primary focus of their interior attack, but it's hard to predict what might happen when Bynum becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
The prevailing thought is the Lakers would move to lock Bynum up to a long-term deal if Howard is unavailable, and it seems reasonable to think that Bynum would eventually accept, considering the Lakers can pay him more than any other team since they own Bynum's Bird rights.
However, Bynum has been a frequent challenger of reason based on some of his immature acts of the past, and that immaturity could breed an environment of contempt towards the Lakers.
Of course, trading Bynum for Howard would just be a business decision for the Lakers, just like rushing to re-sign Bynum would be if Howard takes his talents to Brooklyn.
Will Bynum's emotions allow him to see the situation in the same light?
There are plenty of teams that would show interest in Bynum's youth and talent if he were available, but do any of those teams offer him the same type of environment and teammates that the Lakers do?
None of those teams have rosters that would give Bynum the chance of competing for NBA titles anytime soon. Furthermore, who could imagine any superstar player leaving the Lakers to join the Cavaliers?
Nothing against the city of Cleveland and its long-suffering fans, but one of the most famous images in the history of its franchise is Michael Jordan hitting a jump shot over Craig Ehlo to eliminate the Cavaliers from the playoffs.
The other one is LeBron James' infamous decision to take his talents to South Beach.
Cleveland may be on to something with reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving and the selection of shooting guard Dion Waiters in the 2012 NBA draft. But why would Bynum leave a true title contender for a team that might never reach its potential?
The Rockets and Mavericks also offer Bynum the opportunity to be their franchise's No. 1 player, but neither team is a championship contender, even with Bynum on the roster.
If you weigh all the tangible evidence, the Lakers would definitely appear to be the top choice on Bynum's short list of teams, unless, of course, Bynum's pride becomes a factor.
Pride can be a funny thing, since it can sometimes be used as a fuel for greatness. But if left unchecked, pride can be very dangerous.
I'm not sure if Bynum has gained the level of maturity needed to use pride as a weapon or motivating tool, but maybe someone should teach him the lesson that pride always goes before a fall.
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