The Lakers appear willing to stay in the Dwight Howard derby without assurances Howard would stay in Los Angeles following next season. Ironically, they may never find out because Orlando is reportedly hesitant to take on Andrew Bynum, a free agent next summer, without knowing he'll stay in the Magic Kingdom. To this point, Bynum hasn't signaled any such commitment. It's all part of the big NBA free agent dance, and while Bynum hasn't busted out many moves, as Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski notes, his team has started tapping a couple toes:
"Bynum, 24, has one year left on his Lakers contract and has a short list of potential teams with salary-cap space and supporting cast that primarily include the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a "couple others" on the list, league sources said. If Bynum remains with the Lakers past the Howard derby, he’ll have strong incentive to accept a maximum contract extension to stay in L.A., sources said. Otherwise, he has expressed a desire to test the free-agent market."
Factoring in the "couple others," Bynum's "list" can essentially be summarized as any team with enough cap space to sign him outright, and therefore represent a credible threat. Talk of a "short list" is now S.O.P. in his situation, but functions as a reminder of the potential for drama should the Lakers enter the year without some clarity regarding Bynum.
Ultimately, the odds favor the Lakers losing out on Howard. Should it happen, it'll be interesting to see how fast they act on Drew. If they're not willing to go all in with a max offer -- what it will take to keep him -- what then? If the Lakers are in fact ready to roll, expect talks on an extension to heat up relatively quickly. The Lakers are accustomed to potentially distracting subplots and can handle the uncertainty of yet another round of "What of Drew?" conversations, but it's hardly ideal.