The Los Angeles Lakers exercised their option on Andrew Bynum last week – shocking! Basically, if they didn’t, he would be a free agent this summer, so everyone expected the Lakers to do this. He now has one more year one his contract.
What people aren’t sure about is whether or not the Lakers will extend his contract this off-season or wait for things to play out a little more. According to ESPN, the team and Bynum have yet to engage in contract extension talks.
This may sound strange, seeing as Bynum is coming off the most productive – and healthiest – season of his career. Surely he’d be a lock to be extended and star for the Lakers for the foreseeable future, right? Well, maybe not.
He had ups and downs throughout the season. There’s great memories of Bynum making his first All-Star team, making a huge basket late in a game versus the Boston Celtics, pulling down 30 rebounds and blocking 10 shots in a playoff game.
Then there’s the lows: the three-pointer, the comments to the media and the games where Bynum apparently just didn’t want to play and the boxscore showed that.
While Jim Buss has stopped many trades over the years involving Bynum, could that finally change? Lakers assistant coach Ettore Messina had an interesting comment when talking to Jot Down – thanks to HoopsHype for the translation:
“The only chance for the Lakers to rebuild was and is to trade Pau [Gasol]. Now, maybe also [Andrew] Bynum after what’s happened this year.”
Could this mean that there’s a rift between the coaching staff and Bynum? Maybe even between the front office and Bynum? There were reports during the year that Bynum didn’t like Mike Brown‘s way of doing things. Then there’s the time when Drew didn’t bother turning up to a meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchak and he was subsequently fined.
Maybe the Lakers will get into discussions with Bynum about an extension – the ESPN piece said the source expects discussions to happen at some point this summer – but Los Angeles are going have to be cautious about extending him and committing a lot of dollars and years to him.
The worry used to be about his health, and it still is a little, but now his attitude and effort is the main problem. Hopefully, the Lakers will extend him for a few more years and Bynum will grow up and be ready to lead this team now and after Kobe Bryant retires.
If not? Well, as Bynum said himself: there’s a bank in every city.