Yesterday the Lakers picked up the $16-million option of Andrew Bynum’s contract for next season. In the grand scheme it wasn’t a big new story by any means. Mitch Kupchak had announced this move was to occur weeks ago and since we’re not talking about a team run by Donald Sterling then common sense dictated the move was all but academic.
Now the real drama is what each of us chooses to read between the lines. As of yet there are no Bynum trade rumors floating around. Then again there aren’t any rumblings of the Lakers working on an extension for Andrew beyond 2012-13 either.
So what does any of that mean?
That’s where the speculation begins.
It is no secret that Jim Buss has Bynum’s back like the pack strapped to Kevin Durant. Buss could be angling for an extension as we speak. Buss might also be the only person in the organization that thinks building around Bynum is a good idea. We’re all waiting for the Baby Bynum tendencies to die down before slapping the face of the franchise title on Drew.
Those immature and erratic moments are what surely must give some of the Lakers brass pause. It goes without saying that changes are coming to town and Bynum’s stock has never been higher. While the Lakers could get a nice return by dealing Pau Gasol it’s Bynum that stands out as the biggest chip to cash in.
Then there is the added element of having to work out a long-term contract for Bynum beyond next season.
As a top shelf talent at a premium position Bynum is set to break the bank. That also means next season is very much make-or-break for Drew and the Lakers. Another All-Star season with improved play and maturity will have the Lakers’ hands tied. They can’t let their best asset going forward simply walk away.
By the same token, knowing what lies on the horizon is exactly what could encourage the front office to ship out Bynum sooner than later. If Kupchak’s staff has their eyes on a stud in the upcoming draft – say an Anthony Davis type – then perhaps a Bynum offering could tempt the Hornets to take on Drew’s mega salary. Well…if the league allows the Lakers and Hornets to trade every again.
The problem with trading Bynum now is that he’s owed $16-million next season and the team that takes on his salary would have to be concerned about signing him for the long haul.
But this is all just premature speculation. As mentioned earlier there is noting indicating which way the Lakers are leaning on this soon-to-be dicey subject. At LSL we’re just trying to stay one step in front of the trends.