Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will forever be linked as Laker teammates. It’s unlikely they will be linked as centerpieces of a deal, however, that would involve Gasol going to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Bynum going to the Lakers.
According to a league source familiar with the details, the Lakers wouldn’t accept such a proposal as reported by ESPN.com.
One, the Lakers have no desire to bring back Bynum. His role in bringing two NBA championships with the Lakers was soured with behavior issues before ultimately being part of a four-team traded that brought Dwight Howard to the Lakers last season. Bynum was also indefinitely suspended by the Cavaliers for conduct detrimental to the team. Bynum has only averaged 8.4 points on 41.9 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Secondly, the Lakers aren’t keen on the deal even if it would involve immediately waiving Bynum. He would be owed $6 million of his $12.3 million salary if he is waived before Jan. 7. Cleveland has already paid Bynum around $4.828 million, leaving the Lakers to owe Bynum the remaining $1.72 million.Though the Lakers could ultimately save up to $20 million in payroll and luxury taxes, the Lakers would want more assets. Per NBA rules, the Cavaliers would have to include another player to make the deal work.
Third, the Lakers are currently hoping Gasol will bounce back from a sub-par season where he has averaged only 14.7 points on a career-low 44.6 percent shooting. Gasol, who is making $19.3 million in the final year of his contract, is slated to play when the Lakers (13-18) host the Milwaukee Bucks (6-24) tonight at Staples Center after sitting three of the past five games because of an upper respiratory infection.
“He has talent and will find it,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gasol. “He’s battling injuries and battling sickness there. We got to get in a groove, but he’s been around a long time. He knows.”
The Lakers are decimated by injuries, including Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Steve Nash (nerve issues in back), Steve Blake (hyperextended right elbow) and Xavier Henry (bone bruise and tone cartilage in right knee). But the Lakers currently remain reluctant in writing this season off.
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