What a week for Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum. First, he unleashes the dirtiest play in recent memory to get himself ejected from his team's last game of the season, a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Then, he apologizes for the hit but gets slapped with a five-game suspension that will cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.
During his exit interview, SI.com reported that Bynum tried to look forward to next year with optimism, predicting that he will be a bigger part of the team's offense next season.
"Offensively for me, this series and throughout the playoffs I was just being more aggressive, just give us a solid option. I did a decent job at that, had a decent playoffs this year, but it wasn't enough. I just [want to] come back expecting that next year I'll be a bigger part of the team and I'll work to be a bigger part of the team."On Wednesday, Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, the team's leading scorer, poo-pooed that idea according to NBA.com.
"In order for this team, if it was to be the same, [playing a greater offensive role] would have to be the case," he reiterated.
But Bryant made it clear that the food chain for the Lakers won’t be changing anytime soon, at least not on his watch.Ouch.
“Well, it’s tough to do on this team,” he said of moving Bynum up on the list of offensive priorities. “Ultimately, he’ll have to fall in line. Because I’m gonna shoot the ball. We all know that. Pau is going to get his touches. He’s no. 2. And then [Andrew] will have to fall in line.”
For the record, Bryant was No. 2 in the entire league in field goal attempts last season, averaging 20.1 shots per game. Pau Gasol shot 13.7, Lamar Odom shot 10.9, Ron Artest shot 8.0, Shannon Bryown shot 7.8 and then, finally, Bynum shot 7.6. There's no way Bynum, who looked like the second best center in the NBA for major stretches during the playoffs, should have five teammates taking more shots than him. I understand the "get in line" sentiment but that's a ridiculously long line. I'd be frustrated too.
Clearly, the No. 1 thing holding back Bynum is his persistent injury problems. It's hard to design an offensive system around a player who regularly misses games and has dealt with knee surgeries. It's much easier to say "play defense and rebound the scraps" than it is to create two highly-functional offensive worlds: one for when Bynum is playing and one for when he is out with injury.
This is clearly an issue to keep an eye on, assuming that Bynum isn't traded this offseason. The longer he stays healthy, the less patient he's going to be. The situation has implosion or explosion written all over it.