Bynum interested in Mavs, Rockets if he leaves Lakers

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The key reason Dwight Howard is likely not going to the Lakers is Andrew Bynum.

Not that the Magic don’t want him — he’s certainly better than Brook Lopez and the T.G.I.Fridays sampler platter that they likely get — but that they can’t keep him. Just like Howard, Bynum is a free agent next summer. He can walk. And so Orlando would be trading one disgruntled big man yearning to be free for another. Not an upgrade.

Bynum doesn’t want to be in Orlando and if he’s not a Laker has a small list of places he does want to be, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Bynum, 24, has one year left on his Lakers contract and has a short list of potential teams with salary-cap space and supporting cast that primarily include the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a “couple others” on the list, league sources said. If Bynum remains with the Lakers past the Howard derby, he’ll have strong incentive to accept a maximum contract extension to stay in L.A., sources said. Otherwise, he has expressed a desire to test the free-agent market.

If the Lakers do not move him, expect them to offer him that max extension before the season starts.

Then look for the Lakers to give the Steve Nash/Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol/Bynum group a test run for the first half of the season, to see how it works. If there are clear flaws, Gasol likely is back on the block.

Meanwhile, the Nets remain the front-runner to land Howard. However, it’s complex, a three or four team deal (Cleveland being one team) that could involve as many as 14 players and picks and probably half the cast of “New Girl.” There’s progress along that trade front, but complex deals like this fall apart quickly.