Lakers head honcho Jim Buss was on NBATV on Tuesday, answering a variety of questions regarding his team. However, during the appearance, he dropped this telling comment that suggests Howard won’t be heading to the west coast (via Mike Trudell of Lakers.com):
Jim Buss on Andrew Bynum: "I've been obviously a big fan of Andrew's ... we're looking forward to a full, solid year with him."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) July 17, 2012
While Buss declined to speak of any trade rumors directly, that’s a pretty clear stance on where the organization stands with the 24-year-old Andrew Bynum, the only player L.A. would be forced to give up in a potential deal for Howard.
With the rumors still swirling that Los Angeles is working hard to land Howard (via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports), Buss' comments provide fans with some sort of clarity.
Bynum is coming off a season in which he averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks as he took a giant step forward in his progression. Sure, he was mopey and moody at times, but it’s nothing compared to the madness engulfing Howard.
He has been playing a game of chicken with Orlando Magic management for a year now, and seems to keep playing the victim card. He was recently busted for complaining about the organization to a fan via direct messages on Twitter (via Larry Brown Sports).
With Antawn Jamison on the cusp of signing (via the Charlotte Observer) and the addition of Steve Nash official, the Lakers already will be incorporating multiple new pieces to the team. With Kobe Bryant concentrating on the Olympics for the next month, there isn’t going to be a ton of time for the new team to interact before training camp begins.
Adding Howard to the mix would complicate things even further.
While the tantalizing thought of watching Nash and Howard team up on the pick-and-roll may make Lakers fans drool, there are too many outside factors that aren’t worth the risk.
Is his back injury fully healed? Is he okay with playing second fiddle to Kobe? Can he adjust to a brand new offense that doesn’t revolve around him? Can he play alongside another seven-footer in Pau Gasol?
Bynum doesn’t have any of the above question marks. He is cheaper, familiar with this team and perfectly fine with receiving limited offensive opportunities.
Jim Buss agrees.
And really, that’s all that matters. The owner has the final say. You can certainly make the argument that he’s bluffing, but when you think about how often Buss has protected Bynum in the past (via Yahoo! Sports), the odds are he’s telling the truth.
Sometimes the best move is no move and that’s what the Lakers need to do. Re-sign Jordan Hill for a fraction of the cost and keep the “Dwightmare” out of Los Angeles.