While the Lakers were talking to Orlando about a Dwight Howard trade, they have always been only willing to make a deal they really liked. Because the fallback position for them is to bring Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash into camp and chase a ring.
Then the Lakers can sign their All-Star 24-year-old center (who averaged 18.7 points and 11.2 rebounds a game last season) to a long-term deal — but that’s not going to happen until next summer.
Still, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has reportedly started that dance, talking extension with Andrew Bynum’s agent, according to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Andrew Bynum’s agent spoke Wednesday about a contract extension for Bynum, an indication of the Lakers’ ongoing interest in locking Bynum beyond next season.
Bynum’s agent told Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLA.com that there have not been substantive conversations about an extension. It’s negotiations, neither side can ever agree about what they even discussed. Remember the lockout?
Here is how this dance is going to go — the Lakers are going to offer Bynum a max contract extension, which would add three years on to the additional year he has on his deal.
Bynum will turn that down. He will play out the season and — if he has not been traded by the Lakers for Howard — Bynum will re-sign a five-year deal with the Lakers at the max.
Why go that route? Because by becoming a free agent Bynum gets five years and larger raises than are allowed under an extension. It is what Deron Williams did with the Nets, it is what all free agents will do as long as the CBA stays worded the way it does.
Bynum will re-sign with the Lakers and not bolt as a free agent because at 24 he is motivated by money more than many and the Lakers can offer more of it. Plus, in that next contract window Kobe will retire and the Lakers will be built around him. He likes that idea.
So it’s a dance, which Kupchak and Bynum have begun but will last until July. If Bynum is still a Laker in July. Which at this rate he probably will be.