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Lakers Rumors: L.A. Should Wait Before Extending Andrew Bynum

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJuly 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first period while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 19 at Staples Center 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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Andrew Bynum doesn't deserve a contract extension. Yet. 

Having one of your star players hit free agency can be a nasty situation, so it makes sense that the Los Angeles Lakers are concentrating on extending Bynum. Fortunately, though, the Lake Show have time to take the wait-and-see approach with their center.

The news of the on-going talks comes from The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding:

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

But what's the rush?

First, you've got the Dwight Howard saga, a tale that will never end, no matter how bad we want it to. If the Lakers wanted to trade Bynum for Dwight a week ago, it's hard to imagine that story changing now that the Magic center has stated he would sign an extension in L.A.

That, of course, isn't the problem. The problem is that Orlando has never been satisfied—and rightfully so—with the proposed deals that would send Howard to Los Angeles.

But you have to think this whole thing will start to take a toll on Rob Hennigan and the Magic front office. Howard sitting on the bench in a suit getting mercilessly booed by the home crowd game after game is going to start to get annoying after a while, and eventually the Magic might cave for a lesser offer.

If that should happen, Mitch Kupchak would be there waiting with offers. If he re-signs Bynum, though, the dream of "Howard does Hollywood" would be all but over.

It doesn't end there, however. Much to the chagrin of Howard, this isn't all about, well, Dwight Howard.

If the Lakers choose to go with Bynum as their franchise center moving forward, it's certainly a justifiable decision. He proved this year he can defend the basket almost as well as Howard, and when he has the right mindset, Bynum can be dominant in the post. 

Bynum's 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and one healthy season isn't Howard territory, but with the Dwightmare displaying injury concerns of his own, a case could be made for either whiny center. 

While choosing Bynum over Howard on an overall basis can be condoned, it will still be important to uncover how Bynum fits in with the new offense.

The Lakers, of course, just signed Steve Nash to run his surgical offense. The veteran point guard almost always makes everyone around him better, but he does that by thriving off the pick-and-roll.

Can Bynum run that play effectively? Can he step away from the basket to let Nash and Gasol run it effectively? The inclination is to answer both of those questions with a resounding "no," but if Nash can run his offense with Marcin Gortat to an absolute tee, he can probably run it with Bynum.

Still, it's a large unknown.

The Lakers have Nash for three more seasons, so getting a look at how he can co-exist with Bynum before signing the star center to a large contract has to be the way to go. Otherwise, Kupchak is playing with fire and could end up getting stuck with a discombobulated offense for a long time.

If the Lakers find out Bynum in fact can't get along with Nash from a basketball perspective, then trade him or let him go and use the space to find players who can. 

When you have Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, you want to build around the backcourt, not the 24-year-old center with immaturity problems. 

The talent level on Bynum is there, and there's really no question that he deserves a contract extension. It would just be a better move if Mitch Kupchak got answers to the important questions before signing the papers. 

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