The L. A. Lakers officially picked up Andrew Bynum’s $16.1 million option, a formality for a player who eventually tapped into the potential that had loomed above him throughout his career. Reduced vig sides
How long he’s with the Lakers beyond that become the query.
Bynum, 24-year-old, will be in the last season of a 4-year, $57.2 million deal. Talks on an extension hadn’t begun, though that might happen shortly. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, he is going to be an unrestricted free agent after next season.
Either way, Bynum remains one of the Lakers’ 2 tradable assets.
They’d rather deal Pau Gasol, but there are $38 million and 2 more years left on his deal, heavy money for a player who averaged only 12.5 points in the playoffs and shot 43 %.
Kobe Bryant is due $58.3 million over the next 2 seasons and has a no-trade clause, making it tricky to deal him. And that wouldn’t even take under consideration the public-relations consequences the L.A Lakers would experience by trading one of their most popular players ever.
This season was a big one for Bynum. He sat out the first 4 games, suspended for having body slammed small guard Jose Barea in last year’s playoffs, a move that cost him $436,000 in forfeited salary.
He went on to post career highs in points (18.7 a game) and rebounds (11.8) while passing Gasol, a 4-time All-Star, as the Lakers’ second option behind Bryant. Bynum was selected 2nd-team All-NBA at center behind Orlando’s Dwight Howard.
Bynum had many of ill-conceived moments this season, including a well-documented 3-point attempt in the third quarter of a close game at Golden State in March. He was pulled from the game and claimed after it wouldn’t stop him from taking more 3-point shots. (He did not.)
The Lakers fined him about $7,500 for his actions stemming from that game.
About a week later on Bynum didn’t take part in team huddles during timeouts in a game against undermanned New Orleans because he said that he was resting and “getting my Zen on.”
He wasn’t fined for that one, but the NBA hit him for $15,000 for failing to talk to correspondents after a practice during the Western Conference semifinals.
As you might think, Bynum was told in his postseason exit meeting with General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Coach Mike Brown that he needed to stay psychologically powerful through the entire season and try and have an effect each game.
Bynum’s on-court play, however, elevated significantly this season. He missed only 1 game because of injury, an impressive stat for a player who had logged a full season only once in his first 6 years, missing big swaths of time in the past due to knee problems.
In spite of the Lakers’ 2nd-round playoff exit, Bynum thought he would still be with the team when training camp starts.
“I don’t expect to hear my name as a possible trade but I suspect anything can happen,” he announced. “Certainly I would like to be a Laker. .”