The agent for Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum says it would be "foolish" for any team to trade for his client without first speaking to Bynum to gauge his interest in signing an extension or long-term contract with them.
The Lakers so far have not granted the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic or any team permission to speak directly with Bynum or his representatives. Bynum has been the subject of trade talks involving the Magic's Dwight Howard.
"I can't imagine any team foolish enough to do the deal without asking permission to speak to Andrew," Bynum's agent David Lee told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Thursday. "That's beyond belief, but strange things happen."
However Lee denied that Bynum had a list of preferred destinations, saying he and Bynum chuckled when they read reports while on vacation in Alaska last week indicating he had already made such decisions.
"I looked at it and he looked it and we both wondered where it came from," Lee said.
Bynum has been the subject of trade rumors for most of his career and is somewhat used to them by now. Although it gets tiresome, Lee said that any notion this latest round of speculation would sour him on the Lakers is incorrect.
"He's never had a problem with the organization despite all the things he has gone through," Lee said. "I don't think I've ever heard him offer a negative comment about the (Lakers) organization."
Lee would not say whether Bynum was growing anxious to start extension talks with the Lakers. According to ESPN Insider's Larry Coon, Bynum could sign a three-year extension (he has one year and $16.1 million remaining on his current contract) now. Or, he could play out the season, become a free agent and re-sign with the team for five years next summer.
Sources have told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that Bynum likely would not sign an extension anywhere else but with the Lakers this summer because it benefits him financially to wait until after the season so he can get a longer, more lucrative deal.
The inability to decipher Bynum's intentions has complicated trade talks. League sources told ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst that while the Cavaliers are interested in Bynum, they have no choice but to regard him as a one-year rental because that remains a possibility unless he gives them assurances he will either sign an extension with them now or re-sign with them next summer.
Ironically, Bynum's situation is beginning to mirror Howard's. Thursday night, Howard's agent refuted reports that his client has decided he will sign an extension with the Lakers -- if traded to them.
"Dwight's position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season," Dan Fegan told ESPN the Magazine's Ric Bucher. "He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn."
RealGM.com reported late Wednesday night that Howard has decided he would re-sign with the Lakers if he were traded there. However a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com that the Lakers have never been concerned about Howard's willingness to re-sign with them, believing that once he experienced a championship culture, it would be difficult for him to walk away.
Sources indicated that talks had been slow on Thursday as Orlando weighed its options. There is no specific deadline the Magic need to reach a decision by, however the longer the talks drag out, the greater the possibility the Lakers or one of the other teams moves on with their business. While Bynum is certainly used to hearing his name in trade rumors, sources indicated that the Lakers do not want it to become uncomfortable for him.
Bynum's agent added that outside of not being given permission to speak to any of the teams interested in Bynum, he had no sense of how close any trades were to completion or how long it might take to resolve the situation. He would, however, like things to come to a resolution soon.
"I just think it's healthier for everybody involved to get it done sooner rather than later," he said. "It's healthier for Dwight, too. Then maybe people will start talking about basketball again."
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.