— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNlosangeles) January 1, 2014
Every Lakers fan who paid attention to Bynum’s time with in Los Angeles is likely praying very hard that this is merely a rumor. Those who are not well acquainted with the whole story may look at Bynum’s career and recognize his solid numbers when able to stay healthy and use that as a reason to take a chance on the talented big man. Bynum returning to Los Angeles would certainly cause the already shaky team to implode, but maybe not in a bad way.
Bynum’s time as a Laker was plagued by injury after injury as the seven footer missed a total of 61 regular season games in his last three seasons with the Purple and Gold. Despite showing flashes of brilliance when healthy, Bynum never had enough time off of the injured list to develop a rhythm and establish himself as a dominant NBA center.
After the 2011-12 season, the Lakers did the right thing by letting Bynum go and the Philadelphia 76ers did the wrong thing by assuming that the center would recover from knee surgery and begin his run to the top of the game. Unfortunately for them, Bynum sat out the entire season. So now the Lakers are talking about signing the big man again. They must be crazy to do so, right? Maybe not.
Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelbourne, of ESPN LA, report that this grand scheme may be part of a bigger plan to help rebuild the Lakers. Clearly, losing Gasol and picking up the frail Bynum would be taking a step down in terms of talent, but Shelbourne and Windhorst report that Bynum may never even end up on the team. The plan could very well be to bring Bynum over only to waive him in order to get the Lakers under the luxury tax limit and save them millions of dollars. Further, with Gasol’s hefty contract off the books, the Lakers would have more wiggle room this summer in order to sign some talent and rebuild the system. If the Lakers’ General Manager Mitch Kupchak can do some fancy negotiating, the team may even be able to get a draft pick out of the Cavs.
Although it would be a step backwards in the moment, this seemingly nonsensical trade does indeed make some sense for the long run of the Lakers organization. The 2013-14 season seems to be all but doomed for the Lakers so a trade of this nature would be a good plan in order to improve for the future. With Kobe Bryant recovering from injury again but the Lakers already having given him a contract, it is clear that the organization is planning for the future and this trade may just be the next step.