It appears that the Dwight Howard trade rumors may officially come to an end sooner rather than later for the Los Angeles Lakers with GM Mitch Kupchak speaking with Andrew Bynum’s agent, David Lee, about a contract extension on Wednesday.
According to Kevin Ding of the O.C. Register via Twitter, discussions between the Lakers and Bynum’s agent have begun to keep the All-Star center in Los Angeles long-term:
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak spoke today with Andrew Bynum’s agent David Lee about a contract extension for Bynum.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) July 25, 2012
Over the past few weeks, the only topic of discussion in Los Angeles in terms of the Lakers upgrading via trade has been centered on Bynum being sent elsewhere in order to acquire Howard. The talk of a trade heated up over the past week, but then died down just as a quickly with the Orlando Magic seemingly unsatisfied with trade proposals from the Lakers or any other team for that matter.
As a result of the mounting frustration in getting a deal done to acquire Howard, the Lakers might be leaning towards giving up on the pursuit to bring in the league’s best center. With that being said, the attention turns to locking up Bynum for the long-term with a lucrative contract extension.
Despite that being the case, it remains a distinct possibility that Los Angeles will be able to sign him to a to a new deal in order to help secure the future of the franchise with Bynum becoming the main piece to the puzzle after Kobe Bryant retires.
Next season, Bynum is set to make $16.1 million as a result of the team exercising his option. After the 2012-13 season, if no contract extension is agreed upon, Bynum will become an unrestricted free agent looking to sign a max contract. The Lakers are more than willing to keep Bynum long-term, but there’s always going to be some concern about his ailing knees.
At 24 years-old, Bynum is the ideal player to build a franchise around with great potential to become a perennial All-Star and possibly the most dominant center in the league. Even though Bynum has potential to become the next superstar in Los Angeles, the up-and-comer only has one solid season under his belt in seven he’s played for the Lakers.
A trade to acquire Howard is by no means out of the picture for the Lakers, but Kupchak meeting with Lee to talk about a contract extension for Bynum raises suspicion that Los Angeles is growing tired of the never-ending Howard trade saga that changes on a daily basis.