Mitch Kupchak is playing with fire.
Rumors of the Los Angeles Lakers trading Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard have been rampant for over a year now. But if LA approaches its pursuit of Howard the wrong way, it risks burning a bridge with Bynum. And if that happens, it could be left with neither center next summer.
Bynum becomes a free agent next summer. If they land him, but he refuses to sign an extension, Cleveland would get royally screwed over. And the Cavs know a thing or two about getting screwed over in free agency.
If Bynum doesn’t promise the Cavaliers that he’ll re-sign, they could chicken out of a swap, therefore killing the Lakers’ chance to add Howard for the time being. And if LA doesn’t reboot those trade talks with the Orlando Magic and deal for D12 by the start of the regular season, it should abandon its endeavor and lock up Bynum long-term.
If the Lakers don’t, they risks losing him. Sure, Bynum has been in trade rumors for years. He’s numb to it by now.
Yea, yea. He’s got kind of this (expletive) it attitude, you know what I mean. Which is great, it’s one of the things that makes him a great player. It won’t bother him at all. Andrew is a big boy, he can handle it better than most.
But if he hits the open market, he’ll instantly be offered a max contract. And staring at a max contract from, say, the Dallas Mavericks who he’s already expressed interest in, is it really a given that he’d turn it down? Is it a guarantee that he’d return to the Lakers—a franchise that’s consistently failed to show their appreciation for Bynum (outside of Jim Buss) by allowing his name to float around in trade rumors for years?
Crazier things have happened.
Yes, Los Angeles should try to trade for Howard. No one in their right mind is arguing that he wouldn’t be an upgrade.
But if it can’t acquire him before the season starts, it should scrap their attempt and secure its future. It’d be a shame to have Kobe, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol locked up for the 2013-2014 campaign without a respectable starting center.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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