Andrew Bynum unfazed by trade rumors
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Andrew Bynum is realistic. He knows that if the Los Angeles Lakers finally end up piecing together a trade with the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard, it's tough to argue against the move.
"I think Dwight is a great player and obviously if the Lakers can get him for the right deal, it would be worthwhile," Bynum said after the Lakers' film session on Saturday. "But, if they want too much [in return], it won't go through."
Bynum's name has been linked to various trade scenarios that would land Howard for the Lakers, but he insists that it doesn't bother him after having been rumored to be traded for the likes of Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony in recent seasons.
If he stays in L.A., that works for him. If he's sent out of town, he'll handle that too.
He made it clear that it does not take offense to hearing his name dangled in deals and he refuted a recent Yahoo! Sports report that stated, "Bynum has privately been heard to say this offseason that he wants his own team."
"I never said anything like that," Bynum told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I don't care ... I'll be happy anywhere I play, honestly. It doesn't really matter to me. In Orlando, I'll probably get more shots and more touches, but here, I think this year they'll need me to step up here. So, it really doesn't matter."
What does matter to Bynum is changing his reputation as being a liability in the lineup because of his injury history. Bynum has played in just 204 out of a possible 328 games in the last four years because of various injuries, missing an average of 31 games a season.
"Definitely, that's something I need to prove," said Bynum. "That I can be reliable as far as that goes, as far as the knees go. I'm going to keep doing all that I can to be healthy."
He doesn't feel the criticism is unwarranted. Back in the 2010 playoffs, even Bynum himself admitted, "I guess I am kind of injury prone." But he does feel that at just 24 years old, he still has time to turn around that perception.
"If you don't play every game, then there's always going to be grounds for people to say that," Bynum said. "That's something that I have to work through and prove to people that I can be relied upon to play the majority of the season, if not the whole thing."
After spending the offseason working out with legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach and fitness coach Alex Ariza, Bynum comes into this season ready to play from Day 1. He was one of the most impressive players on the court during the Lakers' intrasquad scrimmage on Friday, finishing with 14 points which tied him with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol for the team lead.
"I feel good right now," Bynum said. "Both my knees feel very good. I don't have any swelling. When I get here, I do treatment before practice, after practice to make sure I keep it that way."
Bynum averaged 27.8 minutes per game last season, but with the departure of Lamar Odom, coupled with new coach Mike Brown's strong-corner offense emphasizing post play, his playing time is set to increase.
Even though one would think the lockout-shortened 66-game schedule being crammed into 120 days on the calendar could have ill effects on Bynum, Brown said he plans on increasing the young center's playing time to around 34 minutes per game this year.
"Andrew is going to play an important role," Brown said. "I usually rotate three bigs. I've done that in the past and I'm thinking about doing that now and if I do rotate three bigs, Andrew may be the guy that I come back with, with the second unit."
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Brown said he has been given no indications by Lakers trainer Gary Vitti that there should be any limitations placed on Bynum's playing time because of health reasons.
"I'm just going to play him however I feel that he should play," Brown said.
Bynum won't have to worry about being worn down by the Lakers' lone back-to-back-to-back set of the season in the team's first three games while he serves a five-game suspension for his hit on J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals last spring, but he also isn't fretting the team's 18 other pairs of back-to-backs on the schedule.
"As far as back-to-backs go, I haven't had any conversation with [Brown about limiting playing time]," Bynum said. "I'm going to be ready to go, ready to play."
There have been flashes of the impact player the Lakers have been waiting for him to become since drafting Bynum six seasons ago, most recently when L.A. went 17-1 after the All-Star break last season with a defense tailored around Bynum.
The idea is for the flashes to become the norm.
"I think more is going to be demanded from Pau and myself," Bynum said. "Defensively, first of all, but then offensively. I'm looking forward to it a little bit because I'm going to get more minutes now and hopefully I can do productive things."
Bryant, who was once one of the voices championing a Bynum trade, has been impressed by the Bynum he's seen in this year's training camp.
"Andrew looks good. He's moving around extremely well. He seems extremely motivated," Bryant said. "I think how last season ended and also some of the talk, it's kind of lit a fire under him."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.