JOHN IRELAND BLOG  |  ESPN Los Angeles

Bynum rumors circle game

January 11, 2010, 3:28 AM

By: John Ireland

Several different Lakers made headlines Sunday, all for different reasons.

Pau Gasol met with the media before the Milwaukee game, and told us that he's still struggling with his strained left hamstring. It hurt enough Saturday that he cut a workout short after running on a treadmill for a few minutes.

Gasol says he doesn't want to risk hurting it any further, no matter how much the Lakers have been struggling lately (he watched from the bench in losses to the Clippers and Portland).

"It's very hard, very, very hard to be there and see the team not playing well and losing [with me] not being out there," Gasol said. "It's extremely hard. I wish we won all the games that I'm not playing so I can focus on my recovery and not have to go through the stress of watching the team struggle and not being able to help."

But he added that his frustration isn't enough to change his mind.

"If the pain is there and it increases when you do activity," Gasol said, "then you're not in a good place. It's the wrong place to be."

He plans to travel Monday with the team to Texas, where they play back-to-back games against San Antonio (Tuesday) and Dallas (Wednesday).

This is just my opinion, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't play all week. His official status is listed as day to day.

While Gasol appeared to be getting worse, Andrew Bynum is getting a lot better.

Early in the weekend, Internet rumors began to surface that if the Lakers were interested, they might be able to get Toronto star Chris Bosh in a trade for Bynum. I don't put much stock in these kinds of rumors, because anybody can make up anything. But I know this: Players talk, and they talk about trades a lot. During Sunday's radio broadcast, Lakers analyst Mychal Thompson openly questioned whether the rumors were motivating Bynum.

On Friday night in a loss at Portland, he had his first double-double in 25 games (13 points, 11 rebounds). On Sunday night, he had a double-double by halftime, and finished the game with 17 points and 18 rebounds.

After the game, I asked Bynum if he had heard the trade rumor.

"No … what was it?"

"Bosh," I said, "something about you for Chris Bosh."

"That's crazy," Bynum laughed, "I didn't even know about it."

For what it's worth, I don't think the Lakers would trade Bynum, even if he struggles. Here's why:

•He's cost-controlled. Even though $41 million over the next three years sounds like a lot, in the NBA, it really isn't. If, for example, the Lakers did trade Bynum for Bosh, they wouldn't be able to sign Bosh for the same deal.

•Bynum is only 22 years old. His best years are ahead of him, and when he plays like he did against Milwaukee he sends a clear message that the sky is the limit.

•The Buss family loves him. Jim Buss, who figures to expand his role in the basketball front office in the coming years, was instrumental in drafting Bynum and would be especially hesitant to let him go.

At least 10 fans have sent me trade offers involving Bynum over the past two weeks. I could be wrong, but I'm convinced it's not even being considered.

It's a good thing that Bynum is heating up, because Kobe Bryant has gone ice cold.

On Wednesday against the Clippers, Kobe made just 10 of 30 shots. On Friday in Portland, he made just 14 of 37. But to steal a line from Tommy Lasorda, on Sunday night, Kobe "couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat."

Bryant made just 1 of 14 shots in the first half -- one of the worst shooting halves of his career. He improved a little in the second half, but he finished the game by making only 4 of 21 shots. That means in his past three games, he's made just 28 of 88 shots (31 percent).

Kobe revealed after the game that some of his inaccuracy has to do with that avulsion fracture on his right index finger. He removed the protective splint he's been wearing, and paid a price for it.

"I have more flexibility [without the splint]," Bryant says, "but not as much strength. That's why a lot of my shots have been short. I'll put it back on for the next game."

Phil Jackson was more candid.

"He went from a hard to a semi-hard protective plate that was in there and made from lead," Jackson said. "It conformed, and now there is nothing at all. It's noticeable in his shooting and he knows it, so he's going back to what worked before."

The change may be coming just in time. Starting with Tuesday's game in San Antonio, the Lakers play 10 of their next 12 games on the road, including stops in Dallas, Cleveland and Boston.

With or without Gasol, with or without a healthy gunslinger, the toughest part of the schedule starts right now.

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