Bynum’s Deal

Kurt —  July 30, 2008

This topic came up in a series of emails with Reed yesterday — how much do the Lakers pay Andrew Bynum?

The baseline of the market has been set with the deals for Bogut (six years possibly worth $72 million with incentives) and Okafor (six years, $72 million). It makes sense that their deals are similar in numbers, because their on-court production last season was pretty similar.

But let’s compare that to Bynum from last season:

Name FG% TS% Reb. Rate Pts. P36 PER
Bogut 53% 53.2% 16.5% 14.8 17.5
Okafor 53.4% 55.2% 18.5 15 17.4
Bynum 63.6% 65.9% 19.6 16.4 22.6

Here’s a little guide to those stats for those that are new here:

FG%: Shooting percentage
TS%: True Shooting Percentage, think of this as points per shot attempt, it covers twos, three, free throws all adjusted to be a percentage.
Reb Rate: Percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while on the floor.
Pts. P36: Points scored per 36 minutes of playing time.
PER: John Hollinger’s detailed statistic that gives us a snapshot of the offensive production of a player

The market has been set by the Bogut and Okafor deals, those guys are worth $12 million a year. Now look at the numbers again — Bynum shoots at a 10% higher percentage, grabs a higher percentage of rebounds and scores a little more. Plus, when you think about potential future growth, Bynum is way ahead of those two.

Does Mitch have a choice other than to offer a max deal?

Yes, there is the one number not discussed above — Bynum only played 25 games last year due to an injury. Can you give a max deal to a guy coming off that kind of injury? But, to me, the better question is, do the Lakers have a choice? This is not Sasha or Turiaf, this is the future face of the franchise. If you lowball him, if you try to drag this out, you piss him off and you can end up in a mess (see Chicago). It’s prudent to get a look at Bynum in training camp before offering a deal, but if he is 100%, do you really want to risk lowballing him? (By the way, don’t suggest that Bynum owes the franchise for drafting and giving him training — this is a business, we fans are the only ones with overwhelming feelings of loyalty.)

Certainly it is a risk, offering a max deal to a guy who has looked good for 25 games and is coming off an injury. But young, game changing centers are not something that there are a lot of in the game (quick, name them:: Dwight Howard, Bynum, and, um, ……). There are things worth taking a risk on, and I think Andrew Bynum is one of those.