The past few weeks have been hectic to say the least for the Los Angeles Lakers with a lot of talk about a potential blockbuster trade for Dwight Howard and the free agent signings of Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill.
With the recent signings of Jamison and Hill to go along with the acquisition of Steve Nash, the Lakers have made some considerable improvements to the starting lineup and the second unit. Unfortunately, the Howard saga continues and as a result All-Star center Andrew Bynum has taken a backseat in the Lakers’ long-term plans.
After meeting with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak recently, Bynum’s agent, David Lee, was thought to be beginning talks of a long-term contract extension with his client. Reportedly, Kupchak and Lee did have a conversation recently, but not about a potential extension for Bynum according to Lee via Ben Bolch of the L.A. Times:
“I think Mitch’s comment was that we had ‘a cordial and productive’ conversation. It was cordial and it was productive, but it had nothing to do with an extension.”
It’s no secret that the Lakers are pulling out all the stops to land Howard via trade before next season and that Bynum is the player most likely heading out of Los Angeles as a result. With that being said, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Bynum will be traded at some point between now and the beginning of next season if a Howard deal does come to fruition.
Along with possibly being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets or Orlando Magic, Bynum stands to make considerably more money signing with the Lakers or the team that acquires him as an unrestricted free agent after next season. Howard also fits into this category as well with the superstar center saying he’ll be holding out until next summer to sign a long-term deal with the Lakers or elsewhere depending on how this trade fiasco pans out in the coming months.
If Bynum were to ink a deal with the Lakers at some point between now and the end of next season, the up-and-coming center would only be eligible to sign an extension for the amount of $57 million over three years. If he waits, Bynum can sign a new contract for five years up to as much as $101.9 million.
Obviously, Bynum waiting to sign a deal after next season makes a lot of sense with the benefit of making almost $45 million more than signing a deal this summer or during the 2012-13 NBA season.
The conclusion of the Howard saga remains to be seen with seemingly no end in sight for the Lakers until the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is traded to Los Angeles or another team that can swoop in and offer a better deal for the Magic. Until that time, the speculation surrounding Howard and Bynum will continue.