HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You had to know we’d get to this point sooner or later in the ongoing Dwight Howard trade demand saga.
For the player without a true peer at his position, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum is the closest thing to Howard when it comes to low-post operators.
With the Orlando Magic fielding calls from all over the league about potential deals, it only makes sense that they dial up the only other team in league with a big man capable of wearing the title of best big man in the game.
The Lakers and Magic have had talks about a possible deal, and plan to talk further about constructing a trade. No deals are imminent, and the process has remained fluid as teams have begun to inquire with more serious offers for Howard.
Sources say there is one other trade scenario for a significant player that intrigues Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, but that target is unclear. Before the Magic would agree to consummate a trade for Bynum, they would need to know they could sign him to a contract extension, sources said. Bynum is entering the final year of his contract in the 2012-13 season.
What’s more, Bynum wouldn’t nearly be enough to satisfy Hennigan’s desires for a return on Howard. The Lakers would need to send draft picks and absorb long-term money off the Magic’s payroll, sources said.
They’ve had this conversation before, several times actually. The last time was at the trade deadline, before Howard signed away his right to enter free agency this summer. Bynum was experiencing arguably the best stretch of his NBA career while Howard’s season was just days away from ending with a back injury that required surgery.
There’s also that bit about Howard not wanting to play in Los Angeles or as second fiddle to Kobe Bryant. That would need to be addressed before any potential deals could get rolling. (The Lakers were initially on Howard’s preferred list of teams to play, along with the Nets and Mavericks, but disappeared after rumblings about a rift between Howard and Bryant began to spread.)
And the Magic will need some assistance from the Lakers in making this deal work:
However positively the Magic feel about Bynum, they still need the Lakers to take back one of their expensive veteran contracts — Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson — as part of any proposed trade. With Bynum, Orlando could use cap space to quickly retool its roster around him and become an Eastern Conference. Bynum is coming off his best season for the Lakers, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. Still, his immaturity at times still left Lakers coaches and officials unsettled about his disposition to be an every-night dominant player.
Any conversation about maturity regarding either Howard or Bynum right now would get nasty. Both of them have made some questionable moves throughout the course of the past seven months.
What’s undeniable for both players is their talent and their standing among big men in basketball. By most any reasonable measure they rank 1-2 and the order is an argument we can have later (or just leave to TNT’s Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal).
And speaking of O’Neal, does anyone else find it to be just a bit interesting for the Magic and Lakers to engage in talks about swapping superstar big men after the way O’Neal bolted Orlando for Los Angeles years ago?