Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Andrew Bynum confident in staying
By Dave McMenamin
The Orlando Magic might be back on the market with Dwight Howard as Thursday's NBA trade deadline looms, but Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum doesn't believe he'll be involved in a swap for Superman.
"I definitely feel like I'm going to be a Laker for a long period of time," Bynum said on 710 ESPN's "Max & Marcellus Show" on Wednesday. "They had an opportunity to trade me earlier, they didn't do it. They wanted me to develop and I started realizing, now I'm trying to go get it.
Trade rumors don't really affect me. I've been in every one that's come up so far and the Lakers always hold on to me, so for that I give them gratitude and I'm going out there and showing on the court that they made the right decision."
Bynum's 37 points and 16 rebounds in a double overtime win over Memphis on Tuesday capped a five-game streak where he averaged 26.4 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 72 percent from the field.
Bynum, 24, has spent his entire seven-year career with the Lakers after being selected straight out of high school by Los Angeles with the No. 10 pick in the 2005 NBA draft.
An array of injuries caused him to miss an average of 31 games a season from 2007 to 2011, but he has not missed any games because of injury this year and is putting up career highs in points per game (17.6), rebounds per game (12.7) and minutes per game (35.8) and was named an All-Star for the first time.
He has one year remaining on his contract after this season, a team option worth approximately $16.5 million.
Bynum said during the radio interview that he underwent an MRI after the Lakers' win against the Boston Celtics on Sunday because he banged knees while trying to split a double team from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the second quarter.
The MRI came back negative and Bynum was able to play 49 minutes against the Grizzlies after taking medication and undergoing treatment to his right knee on Tuesday.
As much as Bynum's increased production can be linked to his health, his success has also been aided by the backing of Kobe Bryant.
"We definitely have a much better relationship than in the past and obviously on the court, the trust is there," Bynum said. "He's even telling me a few things, little footwork tricks and stuff like, 'They can't stop' me. Just giving me confidence."
Back in summer 2007, Bryant infamously said he wanted the Lakers to "ship his ass out" and trade Bynum for Jason Kidd in a video shot in a parking lot that went viral. But the pair has gone on to win two championships together.
Bynum said he and Bryant had some time to work on their relationship on the private jet the Lakers chartered for them to go from Oklahoma City to Orlando for All-Star Weekend. Even though Bynum credited new coach Mike Brown for allowing him to play the most minutes of his career, he referred to the private jet he and Bryant took as a "PJ," which happened to be the nickname the team used for former coach Phil Jackson.
The Lakers play the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back, looking to improve upon their dismal 8-14 road record. Despite their road woes, the Lakers -- at 26-16 overall -- still have the third-best record in the Western Conference.
But that's not enough for Bynum.
"This team is definitely headed for that No. 2, No. 1 spot," Bynum said. "We can definitely catch up to San Antonio. We play them three more times, we haven't yet and each and every game that we play against them is going to be huge."