Monday, February 23, 2009

I hosted my weekly chat this morning, and during the course of the rapid-fire Q&A the question came up of whether or not the Lakers should trade Andrew Bynum this summer and let the group that got them to the NBA Finals last year and the best record in the league this season continue to comprise their current rotation.

The idea stems from the play of Lamar Odom, who has put up All-Star numbers since taking his place back in the starting lineup. As a starter this season, Odom is averaging 17.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 52% from the field. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol, playing back at the center position, is putting up season-highs of 22.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game while shooting a season-high 62% from the field.

With that in mind, consider trading Andrew Bynum.

Some Lakers fans will angrily say that Bynum is dominant and the best center in the NBA. Blah, blah, blah. You can't dominate from the bench, and historically we've seen that big men who get injured early and often usually continue to suffer injuries throughout their careers. As one regular emailer pointed out to me today, Bynum just underwent his third knee operation at age 21 and has a four-year deal worth around $50 million. Is that a sound investment?

Let's say you could work a deal with the Detroit Pistons and land Tayshaun Prince for Bynum and add-ons. Now you have a premier perimeter defender - much more important in today's NBA - as well as another Finals-tested All-Star caliber player. Meanwhile Detroit could put Bynum out there with a young core and try to build for the future, which is their new goal.

The NBA has changed. Sure, dominant big men will always have a use, but the permium in the new generation of run-and-gun offense is quicker, running big men like Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. If that tandem continues to play as well as they have over the last few weeks, the Lakers should consider letting another team take the gamble on Bynum's questionable health. They can win a championship without Andrew Bynum.

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