Commentary

Andrew Bynum should hold cards

Signing extension to expedite a trade isn't in center's best interest

Updated: July 25, 2012, 11:55 PM ET
By LZ Granderson | ESPN.com

Before Andrew Bynum signs a deal with Cleveland, Houston or whatever team L.A. and Orlando are able to rope into this Dwightmare, he should first curl up with a bowl of popcorn and watch one of my favorite videos -- Kobe going off in a parking lot in 2007.

"Ship [him] out" is what his future Hall of Fame teammate said about the then 19-year-old Bynum.

"Ship him out" is what the Lakers' flirtation with the Magic is saying about the now 24-year-old All-Star with a pair of rings.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Bynum and Dwight Howard
Noah Graham/Getty ImagesAndrew Bynum can't stop a Dwight Howard trade, but he can defend his own future options.

Bynum doesn't have the power to stop a trade, but he does have the power to discourage one. He also has the power to expedite one.

More importantly, he has the same power LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh exercised to be where they wanted, to play with whom they wanted and to win a ring. Athletes are lucky to have that kind of leverage maybe twice in their career. Bynum shouldn't be stupid like Dwight Howard was and squander this moment. By waiving his early termination option in March, Howard gave up a lot of power. In doing so, it now appears he will not get his dream of playing with D-Will in Brooklyn.

I sure hope Bynum doesn't make a similar stupid mistake.

By playing the season out and becoming a free agent, Bynum stands to make more money because he can sign a longer deal. If he re-signs with the Lakers, he would be with the team for the minimum required to be eligible for a no-trade clause. Some might laugh at that idea, but, if Howard lands somewhere else -- and who knows what will happen with that guy -- the Lakers might have no choice but to get Bynum back. Not bad for a guy who has been the subject of trade rumors for most of his career. Five years ago, Kobe used him as his verbal punching bag. Today, Kobe and the Lakers can't win squat without him. Father Time has a way of turning tables like that.

As a note, L.A. fans who dog Bynum for his attitude should take a long, hard look at what Howard has done to the front office and locker room in Orlando. Coaches and execs have been fired, and it seems Orlando is in a position where it has to trade Howard before the start of the season because of all the bad blood between him and the franchise. He is coming off back surgery, which in and of itself is not that big of a deal, but Howard has played more minutes in his first eight seasons than any center in modern history. That speaks well of his durability, but it also means he has a whole lot of miles on him.

Bynum's agent, David Lee, said teams interested in trading for his client need to talk to Bynum first to see whether he is interested in signing an extension there.

I'm saying "why bother?"

He shouldn't sign an extension -- period. Bynum is the second-best center in the league. With that comes the potential of being the most-sought-after free agent in 2013. Why surrender that to appease other people? As Jeremy Lin has reminded us, this is a business. Let the Lakers pull the trigger on a trade, but Bynum should keep his options open.

Thus far, little about this saga surrounding Howard has made much sense. If Bynum is part of an Orlando trade and forfeits millions and power by signing an extension, that would be the biggest head-scratcher of them all.

LZ Granderson | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

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