HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Magic Johnson is the one member of the Showtime Lakers who is used to his words about the NBA’s current state of affairs drawing attention.
James Worthy has, for the most part, managed to stay away from the mess. But he won’t for long, not with his assessment of the Dwight Howard-Andrew Bynum dynamic that rages on (at least in some corners) this summer as we all await a decision on the futures of both of the NBA’s dominant big men.
With various reports identifying the Lakers as one of the teams still pursuing Howard in a possible blockbuster trade with the Orlando Magic, Worthy told The Los Angeles Times that the Lakers should abandon that strategy and focus on the nucleus already in place (in no particular order … Bynum, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash):
“I like Andrew Bynum,” Worthy said recently at an appearance at Bell Gardens Intermediate School, sponsored by After School All-Stars Los Angeles and Metro PCS. “He’s young and just as good as Dwight right now. He’s getting better. Dwight … to me, he’s too much gab and too much talking. I’m old school. I want to see something done on the floor. He does all this media stuff, flip-flopping. You don’t get respect from veteran players when you do that kind of stuff. They just want you to play. They want to see what you can do out there.”
Howard is 26; Bynum is 24. Howard boasted superior numbers over Bynum last season in points (20.6 to 18.7) and rebounds (14.5 to 11.8). But those numbers spark further debate. Would Howard score less with Bynum’s supporting cast on the Lakers? Would Bynum score more with Howard’s dominant role in Orlando?
There are other unanswered questions.
Would Howard’s surgically repaired back prove problematic, or would he return to his usually reliable health? Would Bynum’s wobbly knees suffer yet another setback, or is avoiding a major injury last season a sign of things to come? Would Howard sign an extension with the Lakers when he’s indicated he doesn’t want to play in L.A.? Would Bynum’s unpredictable effort and immature behavior continue?
There will be no shortage of questions about the health, maturity and overall make up of both players were they to trade locker stalls. Bynum’s never had to operate without the Lakers’ security blanket (the organization and Bryant) to insulate him. Howard has never played with a star-studded cast like the one he’d be on with the Lakers.
We’d find out so much more about both of these guys if they did trade places (anyone up for a temporary swap? … if we could get the rules changed, just to get a sample of what it would be like).
Back to reality, of course, we’ve stated all along that the only reasonable trade partner for the Magic to engage is the Lakers. For all of the future draft picks, cap flexibility and whatever else some other team can offer, the Lakers are the only team on the planet that could deliver a player that belongs in the same sentence with Howard as a low-post force.
And for the record, we don’t agree with Worthy. As good as Bynum has become and as good as he might get in the coming years, we’d make that trade if it was (ever) on the table!