This time last year, had you told me that Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum would be healthy and having a career year, I and every Lakers fan probably would have laughed in your face. He only has one full season under his belt and his knees are made of chalk. Yet, here he is having a career season averaging 17.4 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, not to mention 2.1 blocks. At long last, he has become the dominant seven-footer the team hoped he would be when they drafted him 10th overall in 2005.
However, Bynum's job has been anything but secure. I'm writing this now with the hope that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak reads this so I can tell him one thing: DON'T DO IT!!
There are multiple reasons that the Lakers shouldn't trade for Howard, with Bynum's career year being just one of them. Yet, another reason would be the fact that any trade bringing Howard to Los Angeles may have to include Pau Gasol, which Jim Buss said in December that he is not willing to do.
These talks died a while ago, but according to Sean Deveny of The Sporting News, the Magic want the Lakers back in the mix for their All-Star center. I understand that Howard would be a great fit for the Lakers, as he could form a deadly tandem with All-Star guard Kobe Bryant. However, team management should back away from Howard, and fast.
Yes, Howard is a double-double machine who is easily the best center in the NBA, but most teams looking to acquire him are insisting that he sign a long-term extension with them before any deal be completed, and that is why Howard has not approved any trade thus far. In the Lakers' case, according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, Howard's agent, Donald Fegan, has already told Kupchak that Howard would not sign a new contract even if he was dealt there.
Thus, the Lakers would be trading away two fine frontcourt contributors in Gasol and Bynum for a guy who would essentially be a rental. Sure, the championship ring would be nice, but what about the future? Also, what if the Lakers didn't make the NBA Finals with Howard, or got there and lost? They will have essentially given up two key cogs in their machine for nothing.
More importantly, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports gave us some interesting news today. Apparently, Howard has been privately telling people that no matter what Orlando does to build him a supporting cast there, his plan is to depart for the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets this summer. Man, and I thought LeBron James was a villain!
Yet, we haven't even touched on the most important reason as to why the Lakers should take themselves out of the Howard sweepstakes, and the front office's decision on this aspect could make or break the franchise in the future.
You see, Howard has already stated his desire to be "the guy" on any team he's on, and that's just not going to happen on the Lakers. That team has been Kobe Bryant's domain for over 10 years, and that's not going to change until Kobe retires.
If Mitch Kupchak breaks up the band and deals both Bynum and Gasol for the egotistical Howard, he'll be entering, as The Big Lebowski so bluntly put it, a world of pain. Once the team chemistry completely tanks, Howard and Kobe will be feuding with each other to the point where it will make Kobe's longtime rift with Shaquille O'Neal look like an episode of Teletubbies.
And finally, once the dust settles, Kupchak will be holed up in his office, sitting in a corner on the floor with his head in his hands, just wondering why he agreed to a rental for Howard at that cost only to see it blow up in his face.
If he's smart and keeps Bynum, he'll save himself from that type of embarrassment.