SAN ANTONIO — Team USA lost its starting center when Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic decided to undergo season-ending back surgery that also will keep him out of the 2012 London Games.
Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ 7-foot center, would seem to be a logical choice to replace Howard except for the fact that he believes he would be better off spending the summer relaxing with a cool drink under an umbrella somewhere warm.
“Probably not,” Bynum said when asked if he would consider playing in the Olympics. “I’ve got to take care of my legs in the offseason. I’ve got some things (treatment) planned on my knees. I need it. I need to have some therapy.”
Bynum’s history of knee trouble began when he suffered a partial dislocation of his left knee in a game Jan. 13, 2008 against the Memphis Grizzlies. He tore the medial-collateral ligament in his right knee Jan. 31, 2009 against the Grizzlies.
“For selfish reasons you always worry about Andrew’s knees and health and the wear and tear on that part of his body, so the more games and more practices he has it’s more wear and tear,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said Friday morning.
“You hope he takes the summer and rests, especially after a long playoff run.”
Bynum made the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time this season and was averaging career-bests of 18.9 points and 12.1 rebounds going into the Lakers’ game Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
Bynum has not played for Team USA in the past, which figures to be a strike against him as the June 1 deadline for the roster’s selection approaches. The style of play in the Olympics also might not make it necessary to find a replacement for Howard.
“I think the international game is a little different, you don’t necessarily have to have a power guy or skill guy around the basket, especially the way these international teams play and the zones you face,” Brown said.
“Yeah, I think he’d be great for anybody and everybody, but it’s just a matter of what Coach K (coach Mike Krzyzewski) and his staff, and (USA Basketball chairman Jerry) Colangelo are looking for.”