Dear Andrew: Chill
As head of the Andrew Bynum Fan Club, I feel it’s incumbent on me to help his agent, David Lee, who told our Mike Bresnahan that extension talks with the Lakers have been "disappointing," noting, “I don’t get it."
Actually, “disappointing” is putting it mildly since the Bynum people have been anxious for weeks.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak may not want to put it this bluntly, so here’s what David Lee doesn’t get:
If the Lakers are to give Bynum $80 million coming off a surgical procedure, even an uncomplicated arthroscopic one from which he seems to have recovered nicely, they’d be out of their minds not to watch him over the entire exhibition season -- at the very least.
In a sign of how they value him -- and how much ownership adores him with Jim Buss involved in the decision to draft him -- Kupchak announced he wanted to lock Bynum up by the Oct. 31 deadline, undermining his own bargaining position.
Actually, the Lakers don’t have to do anything or run any risk. They could let him play this season, become a restricted free agent and still have the right to match any offer.
As a restricted free agent next summer, Bynum would have the choice between a six-year deal with the Lakers or a smaller five-year deal with another team.
Since Bynum represents their future and they’re the Lakers, who have always taken care of their stars, they looked ready to roll with him now -- assuming they got a discount from the maximum $85 million for their risk.
Whether that’s still the case remains to be seen, with Lakers officials starting to talk about the need to "protect ourselves."
In any case, Bynum should play out the exhibition season and see how things stand. At 20, he still has plenty of time to feel "disappointed."
-- Mark Heisler
Photo: Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant walk off the court for a timeout during an exhibiton game against Utah. Credit Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times