Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony: Could This Work for the LA Lakers?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer ISeptember 21, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts next to Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets in the first half of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 27, 2009 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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets have apparently realized that their chances of retaining Carmelo Anthony are slim, as evidenced by the recent announcement that they are open to trade ideas from other teams.

The New York Knicks appear to be the front-runner in the race to land Anthony's services, but that may depend on how much weight Anthony's new bride holds in his decision.

Anthony's wife LaLa, recently revealed on the couple's new reality show that she considers Los Angeles to be home, and she is more than comfortable with life in the City of Angels.

This would seem to give the Lakers an outside chance of trading for Anthony, but would they be willing to part with center Andrew Bynum in order to make a deal work?

It's unlikely that Denver would be willing to trade Anthony to another Western Conference team, but what other franchise could offer a player as attractive as Bynum?

New York, Chicago, and New Jersey are all rumored destinations for Anthony, and none of those teams have a player that holds as much trade value as Bynum.

But would the Lakers be willing to forfeit Bynum's youth and possibly their status as the NBA's top front court in order to land Anthony?

At first glance the decision seems to be an easy one because no team in their right mind would pass on a chance to land Anthony, but true NBA centers are a pretty rare commodity.

Bynum's presence in the middle along with Pau Gasol creates an advantage for the Lakers that few teams can match, and I'm not convinced Anthony is worth relinquishing that edge.

Sure, a combination of Kobe Bryant and Anthony is appealing, but the formula Los Angeles has established has them firmly in the hunt for a third consecutive NBA championship.

So why rock the boat?

The Lakers will eventually have to think about adding another All-Star caliber player, considering Bryant's time as an elite player is limited, but trading Bynum would mean the Lakers have lost hope that he can be a franchise center.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has given no indication that he feels this way, but given the frequency of Bynum's injuries, it is possible that it lingers on his mind.

When Bynum has managed to stay healthy he has shown flashes of incredible potential, but the threat of yet another injury is always lurking around the corner.

But it's hard to ignore how much Bynum meant to the Lakers' latest championship, and the toughness he brings to the team's interior would be difficult, if not impossible to replace.

Even if Los Angeles did decide to part ways with Bynum the Nuggets would likely require another player to make the deal work, and who else would the Lakers be willing to exchange?

Sasha Vujacic and his expiring contract would be ideal, but what if Denver also demands a player like Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, or Matt Barnes?

Is Anthony really worth destroying the chemistry it has taken the Lakers so long to achieve?

Those with an eye towards the future would obviously answer yes, but at 24 years of age and the potential to be a dominant center, Bynum could already be an important piece of that puzzle.

One of the Lakers' signature traits has been their ability to continuously renew the franchise's talent base through free agency, trades, and the draft, and a deal for Anthony runs along those lines.

A Lakers deal for Anthony would likely create shockwaves throughout the NBA, but would they be a better team at the end of the day if the deal includes Bynum?