According to Kevin Ding, a reporter for The Orange County Register, the Lakers are exploring in-house options:
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak spoke today with Andrew Bynum's agent David Lee about a contract extension for Bynum.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) July 25, 2012
Bynum has been considered the centerpiece for a potential Howard deal for what seems like forever, and it makes sense. He's the only NBA center who comes close to Howard's talent. In fact, on the offensive end, he may even be better than Howard.
This news comes on the heels of what ESPN reporter Chris Broussard had to say about Howard's status on Tuesday:
An executive who has had discussions with the Magic regarding Howard said Orlando only will trade the star center in a deal that is great for the franchise. The executive said this has been Orlando's stance for the past "week or so."
Any inkling of Howard staying in Orlando makes a Bynum extension the right move for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, but how would it impact Howard?
Let's take a look.
Best Deal is Off the Table
This impacts Howard indirectly, but Bynum was Magic general manager Rob Hennigan's only chance at a fair deal. Superstar centers don't grow on trees, and Bynum is the only prayer Orlando has at replacing Howard's production down low.
Once Bynum signs an extension, you can forget about it. Kupchak wouldn't extend Bynum only to ship him off. An extension is designed to repair Bynum's connection with the Lakers and show the team's faith in him as a long-term fit in LA.
Broussard's report mentions that the Magic are seeking better offers than what the team have seen so far. With Bynum off the table, that doesn't happen. This could force Howard to stick out an entire season in Orlando, but he probably wouldn't mind that if he gets to test free agency once the year is over.
A Bynum extension wouldn't make a negative impact on Howard in this sense, but it would in another way.
The Ability to Move on
If I asked you to name the most immature player in the NBA over the past season, who would you name?
I hope Howard was the first name that came to mind.
Howard's current reputation would be damaged even further if Bynum signs on the dotted line in Los Angeles. Bynum's feathers have been ruffled, and he has no reason to show the Lakers any loyalty at this point.
Signing an extension would show Bynum's maturity. I bet you never thought you'd see that sentence in your lifetime. If the Lakers offer Bynum a long-term extension, and he signs it, he may finally be growing up.
Putting pen to paper with Kupchak and the Lakers brass would show that Bynum is ready to let bygones be bygones. It takes a stand-up guy to do that after finding your name in the trade rumor mill for weeks and weeks.
That leaves Howard looking worse.
It's better for him if Bynum causes a stink. It makes his soap opera in the Sunshine State look less obvious if you combine it with a few others. Bynum's signature would leave Howard all alone in NBA limbo.
Of course, a deal impacts Howard in more obvious ways too. Both players are likely to command max money, but Bynum's deal could set an idea for what's coming in Howard's future. It also narrows down his potential destinations.
This saga seems to twist and turn a different way every single day. Make sure you stay tuned.