HANG TIME, TEXAS — Maybe like everyone else, the Lakers are just tired of waiting around for a resolution to the 100 Years War, a.k.a. the Dwight Howard decision.
So general manager Mitch Kupchak trying to open talks with Andrew Bynum’s agent about a contract extension, according to Chris Broussard, Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:
Kupchak said Wednesday he’s had “positive and productive” conversations with Bynum’s agent in recent days.
Under the terms of the new CBA, Bynum would be eligible to sign a three-year extension before the start of the season. Or he could play out this season, become an unrestricted free agent and sign for four years with another club or re-sign with the Lakers for five years.
“You can argue both sides,” Kupchak said when asked whether he had developed a sense of Bynum’s thinking on the issue. “The risks associated with playing out a contract versus bird in hand. That’s something each player or representative weighs and evaluates on their own.
“I remember when I signed with the Lakers. I was coming off two back surgeries and I know what I told my agent. So you can argue it either way. If you feel you’re never going to get hurt and you’re healthy, God’s in your corner. You can take a risk and become a free agent and deal with all of the abundancies of free agency. Everybody evaluates that differently. I know how I looked at it.”
While it may still be tempting to find a way to put the six-time All-Star Howard into the middle of their lineup, there comes a time when the Lakers have to stop dangling at the end of the Orlando string and make their own firm plans for the 2012-13 season.
From the standpoint of Bynum, who has had a history of injuries, it might also make sense to sign now to lock in a payday now. He’d also have the option of becoming a free agent again in three years in what should be the prime of his career.
Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register provides some additional notes about how Bynum’s extension could shape the Lakers’ future:
The Lakers have no one but newly acquired Steve Nash under contract for the 2014-15 season, when they are intent on dropping under the NBA’s luxury-tax plateau.
Kupchak declined to detail the Wednesday conversation between him and Bynum’s representative beyond a general description of “productive and positive.” Kupchak said no changes in Bynum’s status would be coming soon.
If Bynum signs an extension, he can’t be traded by the Lakers until Jan. 15, by NBA salary-cap rules.
Bynum made his first All-Star team last season and with the addition of Nash to run the pick-and-roll, he could be ready to fully blossom. In waiting on a deal for Howard, L.A. also has the added dilemma of trying to get Bynum to agree to an extension with any prospective trade partner and that would like drag things out longer.
If the Lakers are happy with their 24-year-old center and Bynum is showing long-awaited signs of maturity in L.A., stepping up to the altar and saying, “I do” to a long-term relationship seems more and more like the right choice.