Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns

Winderman: Lakers shouldn’t trade Bynum now because they’ll need to later


Let’s see:

You don’t trade Andrew Bynum because it compromises the Lakers’ size advantage.

You don’t trade Andrew Bynum because it compromises the Lakers’ already questionable defense.

You don’t trade Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony because Jim Buss loves the guy to pieces.

Fair enough. All (except the latter) legitimate points.

But here’s another one: You don’t trade Andrew Bynum now because you will need him to be available for a trade later.

Putting aside the possibilities of Carmelo Anthony, instead consider the possibilities of Dwight Howard. A Magic center jumping to the brighter lights of the Lakers? Never heard that one before.

To combine two rumors into one (sort of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of conjecture), consider that Howard has the right to opt out of his contract after next season. That should make Howard next season’s Anthony, a player who will find himself in his own whirlwind of midseason rumors.

But then consider the possibilities. Having lived through the Shaq saga, the Magic is well aware of how it all can come apart if left to blind faith. Yes, Dwight is insisting he isn’t thinking about going anywhere right now.

Right now, of course, he doesn’t have the option. He will at the end of 2011-12.

So then merge today’s hottest rumor (Carmelo to the Lakers for Bynum!) to next season’s hysteria (Dwight leaving the Magic!), and then consider this: Bynum for Howard in 2012.

Unlike with the Shaq episode, the Magic not only get a replacement in the middle, but a young replacement, one, who, when you consider the alternatives, might instantly become the best center in the Eastern Conference (no, really, seriously, with all due respect to Andrew Bogut, Joakim Noah, Al “His Father Says He’s Not a Center” Horford and Brook Lopez).

Beyond that, the possibility of landing Howard could prove so enticing to the Lakers that they might even be willing to absorb the dreadful mistake currently known as Gilbert Arenas’ contract. The Magic might even be able to squeeze Lamar Odom out of the deal.

Of course, move Bynum now for Carmelo and that opportunity goes out the window for the Lakers, who then only would have an extended Carmelo to offer for Howard. (It sort of would be like where the Knicks stand now, without first-round picks and much in the way of tradable assets because of last summer’s free-agency desperation.)

No, Dwight Howard isn’t going anywhere right now.

But he could be in play next season, and that should have the Lakers playing this season out and instead considering the possibilities of next February.

And years beyond.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.