The Lakers and the Orlando Magic began preliminary talks about an Andrew Bynum-for-Dwight Howard trade, according to a report Sunday from Yahoo! Sports. Neither side has made an offer, according to the website, which cited an unnamed league source. The Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets have spoken to the Magic about Howard, according to the story. Brooklyn is said to be Howard’s preferred destination.
The Lakers talked to the Magic about dealing for Howard before the trade deadline last March 15, but then Howard said he would pick up his contract option for next season with the Magic and all trade talk ceased. Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, has told the Magic repeatedly recently that his client now wishes to be traded.
According to Yahoo!, the Magic wouldn’t consider a deal with the Lakers without the 24-year-old Bynum heading to Florida. Bynum had a breakout season in 2011-12, averaging career bests of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. He was injury-free and made the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Only Howard (14.5) and Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves (13.3) averaged more rebounds last season than Bynum.
Bynum was once thought to be untouchable because Lakers executive Jim Buss, son of team owner Jerry Buss, was so enamored of the 7-footer. Bynum’s frequent displays of immature behavior rubbed coach Mike Brown and his staff, general manager Mitch Kupchak and several teammates the wrong way in 2011-12.
Brown benched Bynum after he shot an ill-advised 3-pointer during a March 27 game against the Golden State Warriors. Kupchak then fined Bynum after he skipped a scheduled meeting to discuss the situation. Bynum declined at times to join huddles during timeouts because he said he was “getting my zen on” on the bench.
Howard has issues of his own, including a season-ending back injury that forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Olympic team. Just as important, his state of mind also has been called into question over the last year. He had a difficult relationship with Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, which led to Van Gundy’s firing at season’s end.
Then there was Howard’s apparent desire to leave Orlando for Brooklyn, which was quieted when he declined to opt out of his contract for next season with the Magic and then became an issue again in recent weeks. The Magic’s firing of Van Gundy was seen as an attempt to please Howard and keep him in the fold.