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Los Angeles Lakers' Andrew Bynum: Is He Trade Bait or Great?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJune 22, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a shot over Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics in the first quarter of Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum's size, strength, footwork, and natural basketball instincts give him all the tools needed to be a dominant center in the NBA, but his inability to stay healthy may have made him expendable going forward.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak would love nothing more than to see Bynum become the player his talent suggests he could be, but winning as many championships as possible takes precedent over Bynum's potential.

It's a shame, too, because good centers are a precious commodity in the NBA, and Bynum's value was shown in the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

Bynum only averaged 8.6 points per game and 6.9 rebounds, but his presence brought an element of toughness in the post which was missing from the Lakers in 2008. He refused to be pushed around in the manner Pau Gasol was often victim to.

More importantly, Bynum and Gasol give the Lakers the NBA's most talented, versatile, and long frontcourt duo. Their prowess on offense and defense made them the strength of the Lakers' team.

Unfortunately, Bynum's fourth knee injury in as many seasons supersedes the fact he is only 23 years old because it seems more and more likely that the young center may be injury prone.

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Youth, talent, and potential are great, but knee injuries consistently rob a player of the explosiveness and lateral movement that are major factors of their game.

Bynum's youth does make his recovery easier than it would with an older player, but due to the regularity of the issue, you have to wonder if he is capable of surviving a whole season.

Bynum did exhibit mental toughness when he managed to play through the pain of his partially torn meniscus in the postseason, but that injury may have contributed to the recent trade rumors floating around the air.

There are whispers that the Lakers' brass has grown impatient with Bynum, and Chris Bosh has been a player associated with a possible sign-and-trade deal involving the Lakers' center.

At first glance, this would be a great deal for Los Angeles because it would receive a proven league superstar in Bosh who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds for the Toronto Raptors.

Bosh would be a good fit in the Lakers' triangle because his perimeter skills would allow him to exploit miss-matches, and he has the intelligence and basketball instincts to catch on quickly.

Any general manager would jump on a chance to include Bosh on their roster, but the Lakers should think hard before they make any such deal, because it's just as important to remember what they would lose in Bynum.

If the Lakers were to trade Bynum, their length advantage over the rest of the NBA would disappear, and although Bosh is a decent defender, he is not nearly the imposing presence Bynum represents.

Los Angeles would still have the NBA's most dominant front line in Bosh and Gasol, but stronger players like the ones who play for the Celtics, would resume their physical man-handling of the Lakers.

Bosh has never been viewed as a physical player and his finesse style would fit perfectly within the Lakers' boundaries, but it would leave Ron Artest as the sole defensive enforcer on the team.

Many fans and observers feel the positives of signing Bosh would far outweigh the negatives, and the prospects of a Lakers' lineup featuring Gasol, Bryant, and Bosh are intriguing.

But prospects like Bynum don't come around very often, and the edge he gives the Lakers in the post may be more valuable than the points and the superstar image they would receive with Bosh.

There is no guarantee Bynum will be injury free in 2010-2011, but I hope the Lakers give thought to what the team will look like if he is, before deciding to deal him away.

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