Los Angeles Lakers Trade Rumors: What Could Andrew Bynum Net L.A. in a Trade?

Pat MixonSenior Analyst IJanuary 4, 2011

Los Angeles Lakers Trade Rumors: What Could Andrew Bynum Net L.A. in a Trade?

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    As Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves at the start of this new year floundering like some great ship lost on the ocean, the question has to be asked: Is it time to consider trading center Andrew Bynum? More importantly, what could he bring in return?

    While most consider it premature to pull the entire rip cord on the dream of Drew as the Lakers center of the future, there does come a time to at least look and assess what is out there and what he could net.

    Listen, there is no doubt a healthy Drew puts the Lakers over the top against all contenders. I’ve always been a huge Bynum proponent, and felt that his mere presence makes the Lakers better.

    But will he ever be truly healthy? And, will he ever play an entire season? 

    Or, does he go down the path of a Bill Walton, Yao Ming or dare I say, Greg Oden, where we are teased forever by only the potential of this big?

    And, how long do we keep waiting, keep hoping, rather than cash in the chips and start fresh?

    But, can the Lakers even come close to equal value? Is it worth trading such a tall player and not get size in return?

    These are all massive questions in Lakerland.

    No matter what, the team is struggling, and as the trade deadline in February approaches, the question remains: Will Laker management stay the current path or make a serious course correction?

    While you might already be kicking and screaming at the computer screen, there are actually some real possibilities for a trade. I kid you not. 

    Look, not all of the potential scenarios I’m going to throw your way are complete fantasy or only conjecture. But, I will admit, a few are stretches. Some pretty good, big-time ones, actually. Anyway, we can be serious and still have some fun.

    Lastly, I'm only going to keep this general. I'm not going to go into trade details and specifics, matching up the numbers and the amount of players, but I will throw out some possibilities and go with some of the recurring rumors that keep floating around the media. 

    I'll stick to the essence of trading Bynum and what he could net.

    So, here are my top scenarios of what to do with Andrew Bynum.

The Far-Fetched Scenarios

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    We'll start with the outrageous rumors, the ones everyone is simply dreaming about. You know the ones? They have no real basis in reality. 

    But, they each have some sliver, and I mean sliver, of truth and possibility.

    Here goes...

Russell Westbrook

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    To really compete as an elite team in the NBA, the Oklahoma Thunder need a quality big man.

    While it is doubtful they would trade up-and-coming point guard Westbrook, this is still a real possibility.

    The Thunder get a big man in Bynum to go with superstar Kevin Durant. A big man in the middle is the only real way the Thunder ever get out of the Western Conference.

    This move seems crazy, but actually makes sense.

    If the Lakers are ready to pull the plug on the “someday potential” of Bynum, why not get a great point guard now?

Dwyane Wade

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Okay, this is fantasy, right? This entire slideshow a total joke?

    Sure, since mid-December, the Miami Heat appear to have clicked and found their rhythm. Why make a trade?

    Because no matter how great the Miami Thrice play, they are still short in the middle. They need a quality center.

    Why not Bynum?

    In this crazy scenario, the Lakers give up on a player who may or may not ever be fully healthy and get one of the best perimeter players in the league.

    And, this is win/win all the way. Seriously.

    The Heat then have a real center to go with a power forward in Chris Bosh and the dominant perimeter player in LeBron James. They get the holy trinity in basketball: great perimeter, power forward and offensive center.

    This is far-fetched but actually makes sense for the Heat. I doubt it would ever happen, but it sure is fun to think about.

Joakim Noah

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Unlike most teams in the league, the Chicago Bulls have pieces to trade that won't deplete their entire team.

    But why would the Lakers do it?

    Because why not trade a player who hasn’t played an entire full season in Bynum for one who has in Noah, up until this year?

    While not the same caliber of potential as Bynum, especially on the offensive end, Noah is a known commodity. His energy and heart would go a long way with the Lakers. And, he’d be that quality big L.A.’s been wanting to rebound and defend. Lastly, Noah excels at the Lakers’ true weakness: big play on pick and roll. 

    Why would Chicago make such a trade? Same reason everyone in Lakerland is holding on to Bynum: potential.

    The Bulls would add a real offensive big man who can rebound and block shots to Carlos Boozer at the power forward and Derrick Rose at the point. Again, that is the holy trinity of center, forward and guard.

Scenarios with Some Merit

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    These next scenarios might still be a stretch, but they are viable. Doesn't mean the Lakers will be involved. 

    And, it surely doesn't mean that Andrew Bynum would be dealt or worth trading for. 

    But these next few slides have some merit because the odds of a trade for the next player occurring are actually quite high.

    Here are some potential swaps for Bynum with some merit.

Chris Paul

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    There is no doubt Paul wants out of New Orleans. He will go either this year via trade or through free agency in the summer. The Hornets management knows this.

    So, why not get something instead of nothing? Bynum for Paul doesn’t add height to the Lakers, but it sure improves both offense and guard play.  Paul is still very young and would be the Lakers' future. 

    From New Orleans' side, it makes sense, too. The Hornets are stuck like the Denver Nuggets. Sit tight, and they will watch Paul leave in 2012 as a free agent with nothing in hand. Or, do something now, and get something.

    Also, Paul will approve this trade. Like Carmelo Anthony, both players want out of their current situation, but reality has sunk in.

    If they demand a trade to a team of their choosing, that team will deplete itself of quality players, and the end result is what I call the "push." They end up on a team no better than the one they came from.

    This doesn't happen going to L.A.

    Far-fetched? Maybe.

Carmelo Anthony

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    This isn’t as far out there or as much of a fantasy as you think, even if you are now screaming and yelling at me, thinking I’ve seriously lost it.

    But the Lakers actually have the piece(s) to trade and still be a top team.

    Like I said on the last slide regarding Chris Paul, not many of the other teams in the running can trade for Melo without losing quality players in return, leaving them with little more than before trading for Melo. This is the "push" theory of the NBA trade, as I call it.

    But the Lakers could pull the trigger and get the 26-year-old Melo. While the Lakers lose size in the middle, they gain offense and a proven commodity. He's one of the top five players in the league. How could the Lakers pass that up?

    Melo wins with this trade too, because he lands on a contender.

    The Nuggets win because they get something in return instead of Melo walking next summer and getting nothing. Sure, the Nuggets might not want to trade to the Lakers since they're within their conference, but why not for the potential of Bynum? 

    The only other scenario is that Melo will stay and then sign as a free agent with a team next summer. This is quite possibly his best move, because he doesn't deplete a team in an attempt to make a trade happen. Instead, he pulls a LeBron James and goes to a team that keeps its talent intact. But, he'll probably lose out on some millions, with a new CBA cutting into his salary.

    No matter what, the Melo for Bynum trade, obviously with other players thrown in to make the numbers work, is a possibility for all parties.

Orlando Center to L.A., the Sequel: Wait for Dwight Howard

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    While all the previous slides involved trades, this one might not. I call this move a sequel of the 1996 free agency period.

    That year, an All-Star center with the Orlando Magic named Shaquille O'Neal bailed on his team via free agency and signed with the Lakers.

    The same scenario can happen with the Magic's current center, Dwight Howard.

    Howard has an early-termination clause in his contract after the 2011-12 season. This means he can become a free agent that summer and come to L.A.

    It's Shaq all over again. Howard loves to have fun, wants the media attention and desires to be a star in a big-time city. He even has Hollywood aspirations.

    The Lakers would have approximately $67 million allocated to three players in 2012, which keeps them over the cap, not to mention it will be anyone's guess where that year's cap ends up because of the CBA negotiations.

    So, instead of possibly signing Howard as a free agent, this scenario involves trading Andrew Bynum during that 2011-12 season to the Magic for Howard, as the Magic will get nothing (a la Shaq) if Howard walks that summer.

    Or, the Lakers trade Bynum to another team during the 2011-12 season for a cap play, and then sign Howard as a free agent that summer.

    Either way, Howard ends up in L.A. and continues the tradition of great Laker centers.

Scenarios Based in Reality

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    Right now, there's only one scenario that is based completely in reality that makes all the others simply what they are: pure fiction.

    Here's the only real scenario for the Lakers.

Lakers Should Do Nothing

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Do nothing and stay the course. This is the Lakers' best move. There is no better net/net or win/win.

    Andrew Bynum in the Lakers starting lineup gives them the clear advantage over every other team in the league. As a matter of fact, having Bynum is mandatory for a true title run come playoff time.

    There is no greater matchup benefit than against the up-and-comers in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks. Both teams are real contenders, not pretenders to the throne, and only a healthy Bynum gives the Lakers the real advantage.

    And, don’t forget that Bynum will be needed against a possible NBA Finals matchup with the Boston Celtics as well. The Celtics are stacked in the paint and the Lakers would need every big body they could muster, assuming L.A. makes it back to the Finals.

    I say stick to plan and don’t trade Bynum. It's worth the risk on the health front to have him on the Lakers still.

    Let's finally think positive, put out good vibes and start believing that all of Bynum's health issues are a thing of the past. The future will be better than the past.

    I know, I'm still stuck on the potential, the hope, the possibility. But I'm not ready to call it yet.

    No, the best move is do nothing and be better for it.

     

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