Andrew Bynum: Best Move for Lakers Star is to Test 2013 Free Agency
Most of the NBA trade rumors making the media rounds right now involve Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, but there's another big man with one year left on his contract who has garnered interest from a number of NBA clubs.
Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum has been repeatedly mentioned as the pivotal piece in a deal that would land Howard in Southern California, with the biggest sticking point appearing to be Bynum's willingness to ink a long-term extension with his "new" team.
However, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times recently reported that Bynum has given no indication that he's willing to make that accommodation, and according to Bynum's agent, David Lee, the subject hasn't even really come up.
"We've never had that conversation," Lee said. "If we had a conversation every time there was talk about a trade, we'd be talking about other teams more than we would the Lakers."
Good for Bynum. He's holding most of the cards at this point, and there's absolutely no reason to fold.
If the Lakers want to ink Bynum to a long-term deal, that's one thing. He could include a no-trade clause in a contract with Los Angeles, and while it may result in playing for a little less scratch, it would also mean playing for a perennial Western Conference contender.
This scenario seems rather unlikely at this point, as the Lakers appear intent on moving on from Bynum. However, that intention could change rapidly if the Lakers miss out on Howard—a distinct possibility if Bynum refuses to play ball and essentially help the Lakers ship him out of town.
Unless the Lakers do pony up a deal, though, there's absolutely no good reason for Bynum to agree to a long-term contract as part of a trade that could not only strand the eighth-year pro on a mediocre team for years but would also probably be for considerably less money than Bynum would receive on the open market.
You can call him soft, inconsistent or say he has a bad attitude, but the fact remains that Bynum is a talented player who isn't even 25 years old yet. And given the scarcity of quality big men in today's NBA, the bidding for his services almost certainly would be fierce when he hits free agency a year from now.
If Bynum refuses to help the Lakers banish him to Orlando or—God help him—Cleveland, then the youngster will undoubtedly once again be criticized for being selfish and only thinking of himself.
With that said, it's not like the Los Angeles Lakers are bending over backwards to show loyalty to Bynum. He doesn't owe them anything, and if he has any sense, Kobe Bryant will soon be grumbling once again when Bynum isn't "shipped out" of La-La Land.
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