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L.A LAKERS EXERCISED THE ‘TEAM OPTION’ ON ANDREW BYNUM
Thu, 07 Jun 2012 05:17 PM EDT

The Los Angeles Lakers officially picked up Andrew Bynum’s $16.1 million selection, a formality for a player who finally tapped into the potential that had loomed above him through his career. NFL scores

How long he’s with the Los Angeles Lakers beyond that become the question.

Bynum, 24-year-old, will be in the last season of a 4-year, $57.2 million deal. Negotiations on an extension had not begun, though that might occur soon. If he doesn’t re-sign with the L.A Lakers, he is going to be an unrestricted independent agent after next season.

Either way, Bynum remains one of the Lakers’ 2 tradable assets.

They’d rather deal Pau Gasol, but there are $38 million and 2 more years left on his deal, heavy cash for a player who averaged only 12.5 points in the playoffs and shot 43%.

Kobe Bryant is due $58.3 million over the next 2 seasons and has a no-trade clause, making it hard to deal him. And that wouldn’t even consider the PR repercussions the L.A Lakers would experience by trading one of their most well-liked players ever.

This season was a large one for Bynum. He sat out the 1st four games, suspended for having body slammed small guard Jose Barea in last season’s playoffs, a move that cost him $436,000 in forfeited salary.

He went on to post career highs in points (18.7 a game) and rebounds (11.8) while passing Gasol, a 4-time All-Star, as the Lakers’ 2nd option behind Bryant. Bynum was chosen 2nd-team All-NBA at center behind Orlando’s Dwight Howard.

Bynum had lots of ill-conceived moments this season, including a well-documented 3-point attempt in the 3rd quarter of a close game at Golden State in March. He was yanked from the game and claimed afterwards it would not stop him from taking more three-point shots. (He didn’t.)

The Lakers fined him about $7,500 for his actions coming from that game.

About a week later, Bynum didn’t take a role in team huddles during timeouts in a game against undermanned New Orleans as he said he was resting and “getting my Zen on.”

He wasn’t fined for that one, but the NBA hit him for $15,000 for failing to talk to reporters after a practice in the Western Conference semifinals.

As you might think, Bynum was told in his postseason exit meeting with GM Mitch Kupchak and Coach Mike Brown that he wanted to stay psychologically strong through the entire season and try and make an impact every game.

Bynum’s on-court play, nevertheless, elevated significantly this season. He missed only one game due to injury, an impressive stat for a player who had logged a full season only once in his first 6 years, missing big swaths of time in the past due to knee problems.

Regardless of the Lakers’ 2nd-round playoff exit, Bynum thought he would still be with the team when training camp starts.

“I do not expect to hear my name as a potential trade but I believe anything can happen,” he announced. “Of course I’d like to be a Laker…”


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