|The Lakers and Andrew Bynum are talking extension. (Getty Images)|
This negotiation isn't a matter of price, but of preferred destinations and collective bargaining agreement logistics.
The Orange County Register reports that the Los Angeles Lakers and All-Star center Andrew Bynum have begun conversations about a contract extension.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Andrew Bynum's agent spoke Wednesday about a contract extension for Bynum, an indication of the Lakers' ongoing interest in locking Bynum beyond next season.
Kupchak declined to detail the Wednesday conversation between him and Bynum's representative beyond a general description of “productive and positive.” Kupchak said no changes in Bynum's status would be coming soon.
Bynum, 24, is coming off of a career year, being selected to first All-Star game in 2012 and being named to the All-NBA Second Team. A true 7-footer with good hands, an array of moves on offense and solid defensive and shot-blocking numbers, Bynum is considered the NBA's second-best center, behind Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. He posted averages of 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 55.8 percent from the field for the Lakers last season. He appeared in 60 of the team's 66 games.
To date, Bynum has made nearly $50 million in salary, according to Basketball-Reference.com. He's set to earn $16.9 million in 2012-13 after the Lakers decided to pick up their team option on his deal.
There is no question about Bynum's asking price going forward. Even with numerous eye-roll inducing comments, multiple ugly on-court incidents and a string of traffic violations, Bynum is a max player, no questions asked. The Lakers are able to offer him a 3-year extension currently; should he decide to wait until the summer and become an unrestricted free agent, he would be eligible for a 5-year extension.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul found himself in the same situation this summer and opted against inking an extension, instead waiting for a bigger pay day down the road. One possible X-factor for Bynum: Bynum underwent surgery on his right knee in 2010 and continued to receive treatment into the 2011-12 season. But is hedging against the risks associated with his knee really worth sacrificing two guaranteed years of high 8-figure per year salary? Not likely.
Really, the biggest X-factor in all of this has nothing to do with Bynum and everything to do with Howard. The two centers have been linked in rumors for years at this point and Howard is entering the final season of his contract with the Orlando Magic. Howard has requested a trade and Bynum is the league's most obvious return trade chip.
Bynum's future, then, likely winds up on hold until the Howard soap opera finally plays out a bit further. Wonderful.