Tomorrow’s story tonight …
Andrew Bynum walked into the Lakers’ locker room at 6:30 p.m., roughly 30 minutes after his teammates were required to arrive. He changed into a pair of practice shorts and took his uniform, still on its hangars, back to the equipment room.
Bynum couldn’t play in Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Nets because of a sprained left ankle suffered in Sunday’s victory over the Golden State Warriors. He wouldn’t talk to reporters before the game, as is his custom.
So, it was left to coach Mike Brown to answer questions about him.
Brown confirmed Bynum was fined an undisclosed amount last week for blowing off a meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchak that was arranged to discuss his immature behavior, including an ill-advised 3-pointer March 27 against Golden State.
A Lakers insider said the team hadn’t suspended Bynum for his recent actions.
Then he smiled faintly and added the word, “Yet.”
“Am I concerned with Bynum’s attitude?” Brown said, repeating a reporter’s question about the 24-year-old center’s recent behavior. “No, I’m not concerned. … It’s been handled internally. It’s an internal matter.”
“Stuff happens,” Brown added. “Sometimes you guys (reporters) find out, sometimes you don’t. Just because you guys found out about this (Bynum’s fine), doesn’t mean I’m going to overreact. … If something needs to be said publicly, I’ll say it.”
Brown’s unwillingness to comment further raised more questions than it answered about a player who is projected to be the face of the franchise after superstar Kobe Bryant retires. Bryant has two seasons after this one left on his current contract.
Bynum has acted out noticeably since the March 15 trade deadline passed. His failed 3-pointer against the Warriors was only the most public example, but a Lakers source said last week there were a number of off-court incidents.
Bynum has played loud music in the locker room, violating a longstanding team policy. He has acted disrespectfully to teammates and members of the coaching staff, and when he missed the 3 against the Warriors, Brown had seen enough and benched him.
More recently, Bynum told reporters after Saturday’s victory over the New Orleans Hornets he didn’t know what was said during timeouts because he doesn’t participate in them, preferring to rest and “get my Zen on.”
Brown wouldn’t agree that he was enabling Bynum’s bad behavior by not addressing it publicly, saying, “What you’re trying to get me to do is make a big story out of it, and if I make a big story out of it, then that is your definition of not enabling him.
“What do you guys want me to say? We’ve handled it internally. We move on.”
Maybe he has moved on, but the story still has legs.