NBA Rumors: Why Lakers Made Right Choice Keeping Andrew Bynum over Dwight Howard

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IApril 6, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference looks to move the ball against Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic and the Eastern Conference during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers nearly traded Andrew Bynum to the Orlando Magic in a package for Dwight Howard just before the March 15 NBA trade deadline.

According to Fred Kerber of the New York Post, Howard was on the "verge" of being traded to Los Angeles and it would have gone down "if the Magic hierarchy had gone through with its threat of playing hardball with the indecisive superstar center."

According to league sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Orlando brass got fed up with Howard’s yes-no-maybe posturing and threatened to trade him to the Lakers, not his desired location, if he did not sign an agreement to waive the opt-out clause for the final season of his contract. Howard eventually signed the papers, but only after he was told “he would be a Laker by the end of the day,” according to one source.

Fortunately for the Lakers and fans of the team, that disaster scenario never played out and the potential crisis was averted.

Before the season began, most Lakers fans would have jumped at the opportunity to trade Bynum for Howard, but that sentiment simply doesn't ring true any longer.

Howard, averaging 20.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks on 57.9 percent shooting, isn't performing leaps and bounds ahead of Bynum, who is averaging 18.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks on a solid 58.3 percent shooting.

Despite the perceived headaches that Bynum has caused this season, it's been nothing compared to the saga that has surrounded Howard for the entire year.

If Kerber's story holds true, Howard agreed to waive his early termination option upon learning that he would have been traded to the Lakers—clearly, that is not a team Howard wanted to go to despite Los Angeles being on his "list."

Furthermore, Howard's desire to be "the man" in Los Angeles wouldn't have worked alongside Kobe Bryant and under Mike Brown in Los Angeles.

This is a Lakers team that is looking to win a title. There are greater goals at hand than simply focusing on the individual, and that is all Howard seems to be interested in doing.

From before the season started, all we've been bombarded with is me-first angles out of Orlando coming from Howard—it's become exhausting.

Howard might have the physical tools of a superstar, but his mental makeup leaves a lot to be desired.

This is not someone who is capable of leading any team to a championship, nor is this a player who Lakers fans should want ushering in the future.

We have heard time and time again that all Howard cares about is winning, but his actions speak much louder than his words.

He's held his team captive for the majority of the season, and rather than displaying the leadership necessary for his team to compete for a title, it's become a campaign solely focused around Howard and what his next indecision will be.

The Lakers don't need someone who is only concerned about himself.

There is an argument to be made for Andrew Bynum being the better overall player ahead of Dwight Howard right now. With Bynum younger than Howard, there is certainly room to believe the first-time All-Star could have an even brighter future ahead.

Why does Los Angeles need a distraction like this? They don't.

The Lakers and Howard are headed in two different directions, and it's become more apparent than ever that is exactly what is going on.

Trading a rising star in Andrew Bynum for a disgruntled Dwight Howard was never the right move to make, and Lakers fans should feel fortunate it never came to fruition.