Lakers Trade Rumors: Andrew Bynum Will Be Problem in 2012 If Center Isn't Traded

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIJuly 19, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first period while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 19 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Mitch Kupchak and the Los Angeles Lakers are past the point of no return in this never-ending Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard saga.

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers and Orlando Magic are still going at it, but the details are unclear:

The Lakers remain committed to pursuing Howard even without assurances he'd sign a long-term extension with the club. What's unclear to both sides is whether Orlando would accept Andrew Bynum without assurances he'd sign a long-term extension.

While the Lakers are exhausting all available options in an attempt to bring in one of the most high-profile players in the league, they are also doing their best to alienate one of their own star players.

The team has already exercised its option to retain Bynum next season, but if they fail to bring in Howard, the 2012-13 campaign could be a long one for the Lakers.

We've seen Bynum exhibit immaturity issues in the past. Whether it be throwing a forearm shiver into the midsection of J.J. Barea or being benched for taking a three-pointer, the 24-year-old hasn't always been the picture of professionalism.

His name has been swirling around as a potential trade piece for Howard for quite some time, though, and it wouldn't be a stretch the say the team-player relationship isn't at an all-time best.

It's not as though the Lakers are looking to trade Bynum for a player who plays a position that they need more help at. They are shopping him for a comparable player.

Howard is far superior to Bynum in most aspects, which is obviously why the Lakers would rather have the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year over their current center. The bad news for Los Angeles is that Bynum surely knows this too.

People can believe that he's sitting back and thinking that it's all part of running a business and it is nothing personal, but this can't make him feel good. It probably doesn't make him want to play for the Lakers more than he did last season, and it certainly doesn't make him feel more committed.

After all of this, there's no reason to believe that Bynum won't at least think about bolting for greener pastures after next season is over. Sure, he could sign a contract extension before the season begins, but common sense says Lakers management isn't going to do that until these trade talks blow over.

According to the above ESPN report, "Bynum will expect a max contract extension." Kupchak and the rest of the brass aren't going to have much leverage in this one, especially now that they've been trying to trade Bynum for Howard.

If the Lakers fail to see this prospective trade through and then waiver on signing Bynum to a max extension, we could be in for some fireworks in Los Angeles this coming season.