Bynum and Other Thoughts

Kurt —  September 8, 2008

The biggest news for the Lakers recently is that Andrew Bynum sat down with the local media and said that he is 100% healthy and ready to go. A few quotes from the stories:

“I can’t wait, man. I think I’m the only guy who wants the season to start, like, tomorrow, you know what I mean? But I just can’t wait to play with the fellows. I haven’t done it in seven months, so I’m excited.

If I handle my business on the court, the business off the court will be handled. So, we can wait on that. It would be nice to get it done before the season, so I obviously wouldn’t have to think about it, but if not. … I think I’m going to be ready. All I can do is show up and work hard every day. … It would be nice to have that done, but I’m going to be out there either way.”

I have two thoughts here. First, I hope this is true. Mitch Kupchak said it looked like it was when he went to Atlanta to watch the workouts, and Bynum said all the right things. This is good. He is a key to title hopes for the Lakers this season.

Second, if I wanted a max deal, this is exactly the press conference I would hold.

Personally, I think we should wait until we there have been practices and maybe some exhibition games before we decide all is right with the world. But the Lakers need to get his deal worked out before Oct. 31 or then he becomes a restricted free agent next year, and from there bad feelings can start to build because of perceived slights, and you don’t want that with your stars of the future.

A few other thoughts.

• Glad to see Kobe is getting the surgery on his finger (the official date will come out later today and I’ll update here when it happens). This needs to get done, I’d rather have him miss a few games at the beginning of the season than not be right when it matters. That said, I think Ziller said it best at Fanhouse: “Only Kobe could set a date on which he’ll announce which date he’ll have surgery on his pinky.”

• I don’t know what you’re talking about, I thought my Fighting Irish looked fine.

• Great note out of Bruins Nation, taking specifically about the bad ending of the Washington v. BYU game over the weekend, but the sentiment applies to all sports:

The call was simply bad. But, the Pac 10 explanation, after the game, was worse. “We were simply following the rules”.

And, therein lies the problem. It is not simple to follow rules. Rules are applied. They are not “followed”. Rules have no meaning until an official uses JUDGMENT — looks at the PURPOSE of the rule and the CONTEXT or situation, and determines how to apply it to bring about a fair and just result.

• My first pick in fantasy football — Tom Brady (#7 overall). Well, that was a fun season.

Kurt

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40 responses to Bynum and Other Thoughts

  1. In the interview with Jim Hill he said he was running sub 6:30 miles and sub 11 seconds 100m. Body fat 9% and weighing 285…

  2. If Bolt is 6’5″ and can run the 100 meters in 41 steps, how many does it take Bynum?

  3. Sounds like a good math word problem…

  4. My only reservation about listening to Kupchak’s evaluation of Bynum is that he made that trip with Jim Bus. We know that Jim Buss has rose colored glasses on for Bynum, and I can see him coming out of what they saw talking it up, at which point Kupchak would be in a difficult situation to publicly say he didn’t like what he saw. In fact even without Buss from the simple standpoint of not ticking off Bynum, he couldn’t really say if the kid didn’t look good…. Forutnately he also said they’d wait and see. Unfortunately we get all of one or two regular season games before that 10/31 deadline.

    In the end, I’m guessing we give him the money even if he doesn’t look 100% because if Jim Buss wants him, it’s his dad’s money he’s playing with, so who is anyone but his dad to tell him he’s wrong?

  5. All this talk about Bynum being healthy is great and all, but what I am more curious about is how much his basketball game has developed since.

    He hasn’t been drilling with Cap and hasn’t played many games. I know Bynum does several agility drills on the basketball court but how much time did he spend on developing skills.

    My biggest concern is he didn’t make a big jump in game develop like he did last summer. Bynum did well last year, but he was still raw. He was improving greatly towards the end but he got sidelined.

    I really hope he is sharp on the court come the start of the regular season.

  6. The Bolt is not really human. No where can someone run a 100m that fast, and his 200m time was absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t think anyone was ever going to beat Micheal Johnson’s time. I guess I was wrong.

  7. Thats supposed to be no “way” can someone not no “where”.

  8. Kurt,

    You think the Lakers would be making a mistake by letting the market decide Andrew’s value next summer?

    I understand that could lead to bad feelings between Andrew and Lakers management. But the Lakers have to be cautious given the seriousness of Andrew’s injury.

  9. 8. Brandon, I did a whole post on this a while back, but I think the market has been set for Bynum: Bogut six years $72 mill, similar numbers for Okafor. Bynum is better than either of those when healthy. Do they need to make sure he is right? Yes. But this guy is the face of the franchise for a decade or more if you play it right, taking the mantle when Kobe leaves. If he is right you do not want to risk this.

  10. Kurt,

    Without a doubt, Bynum is a max-level player. But I don’t see anything wrong with letting the market determine his value. And I would be surprised if Andrew felt slighted if the Lakers choose to delay negotiation.

    From what I’ve read, Kupchek wants to get something done before the season starts.

    But I would wait until after the season.

    What if he gets hurt again?

  11. Bynum is running sub 11 100m?! Dang, I knew these guys were athletes, but I seriously thought I could easily outrun CENTERS. At least I can outrun him over a mile…

    As for ‘games that do not matter,’ I have to agree that it does feel that way, although a win in the beginning of the season is worth the same as a win at the end of a season, in terms of W-L record. Just as the first basket is worth as much as the last. Still, for ‘getting-used-to’ purposes, I like surgery at the beginning.

    And for Bynum getting a max deal; well, he’s worth the risk considering there’s no way we can evaluate his status or likelihood to reinjure himself any more accurately two months from now.

  12. Kurt, never fear! It sucks to lose your first round pick, but take a flier on some hotshot rookie who is blowing up…

    As for Bynum, he definitely has the skills to be a big time NBA player. And big time NBA centers are max contract players. As long as Jerry Buss can get an insurance contract for Bynum, it makes too much sense to sign him. After next year, it won’t even be a question.

  13. My biggest qualm with all of this is the fact that Andrew hasn’t really shown he can score on his own. Think about it – in the unlikely event that Kobe bolts town, would Andrew really be the face of the franchise? 13 points and 10 rebounds plus shaky knees for a center are not exactly a max deal. I’d be okay with giving him big money for a couple of years, but not for six more. If he comes back and averages 18ppg, 13rpg, 3bpg and a few dimes per game, I’ll be happy to eat crow (since then we might as well start parade preparations in January)

    More of a concern should be the logjam at our 3.5 position. Too many small forwards playing power forward and all of them are making money we could use on a real power forward.

  14. lgork,
    Odom is a real PF and Gasol is a real PF. Who are the 3s playing 4 you’re talking about?

  15. 14-I think IgorK has a point if Odom cannot prove he can succeed at the 3. Although Odom is not a “real” 4, he is closer to being a 4 than a 3, and if things have not changed (improved lateral quickness and a reliable mid-range jumper would do the trick) then there would be a logjam. Especially if you consider Vlad also playing some 4, and even Luke (throughout the playoffs) played some 4. All these guys are not natuarl 4′s. However, Mr. Gasol is a natural 4, and he will thrive there.

  16. Odom and Gasol are both incredible offensive players. The problem’s on the other end of the floor. Bynum’s shotblocking will help but there’s a serious lack of footspeed on defense from those forwards.

  17. Odom makes up for what he lacks in footspeed (and I wouldn’t be so quick to say that his footspeed is slow compared to other 4s) he makes up for in strength and length. Okay, there are allot of strong and long 4s in the league but Odom is one of them.

  18. Kobe apparently missed the date that he set to announce the date that he will have his surgery.

  19. “My biggest qualm with all of this is the fact that Andrew hasn’t really shown he can score on his own. Think about it – in the unlikely event that Kobe bolts town, would Andrew really be the face of the franchise? 13 points and 10 rebounds plus shaky knees for a center are not exactly a max deal.”

    I couldn’t believe that comment. He has soft hands and great touch, only a matter of time before that part of his game develops.

  20. Apparently, there have been some talks of Kobe “living” with the injury. Like he has gotten used to playing WITH it.

    As for Drew, we know that publicity will always announce him to be fully healthy. We all want that extension don’t we? The last thing we need is to come out with tentative statements suggesting doubt over his long-term health.

    For what its worth, seeing the Luol Deng’s are getting paid some 11.8m per of cold hard cash, I’m tempted and inclined to give Bynum an extension – something like what Deron and CP3 got – 4yrs that is back-loaded. After then, we will see. But atleast we eliminate the doubt and tentativity of the matter.

    Something like 12-13.2-14.52-15.972 for a total of 55.692m.

  21. Addendum: I missed a little detail. The raises could actually be up to 10.5% which I missed. That one used 10% raises.

  22. Maybe I’m a little too cautious. But I would lock Bynum up now and not wait until free agency next summer. Why risk the chance of him leaving?

  23. I guess I may be alone, but I don’t see Andrew leaving next summer, regardless.
    1) Listen to his comments – he doesn’t sound to angry, just sanguine.
    2) What other team has the championship pedigree of the Lakers other than the Celtics – and they have their own salary problems?
    3) Where, except possibly NY, are the endorsements
    better?
    4) Where can he get better coaching to prolong his career?

    It just seems that the Lakers are the logical choice for Andrew and so long as the organization doesn’t actively ‘screw it up’, I think he signs here regardless. Too much business sense.

  24. I didn’t do a very good job of explaining my position on Andrew’s extension.

    Bynum’s talent is undeniable. But his first two seasons were a disappointment. And he only played 35 games last year.

    He displayed his potential in those 35 games. But is that enough to justify a max-level deal before he’s put together a solid 82 game season?

    I don’t think it is.

    I understand the benefits to signing Bynum before the season starts. It will establish goodwill between he and the Lakers. And LA may be able to save a little money by doing so.

    But Andrew is under contract. He’ll be a restricted free agent after this season. If he’s worth a max-level deal after a full 82 game season, the Lakers can give it to him or match any other offer Andrew receives.

    If he is injured again this season (knock on wood) his value will go down (even if it’s not career-ending) and the Lakers could sign him at discount. If it is career-threatening, there is very little chance that his ‘new contract’ would be covered by insurance.

  25. If you do not sign him by Oct. 31 he can be a restricted free agent, correct, but not being offered a deal like other top players would be taken as an insult, I think. Then you run this risk — his agent and confidants tell him “the Lakers don’t like you enough to offer a deal” and next summer rather than re-upping with the Lakers he signs the qualifying offer so he can be unrestricted when the deal runs out.

    Is offering Drew a max or near-max deal a risk? Yes. But the fact of the matter is that special talents get deals wrapped up after three years. CP3, Wade, LeBron, Howard all got them. If Bynum is the future focal point of the franchise, you have to treat him as such. He may not walk after this deal, but you don’t want to run the risk. Special players get treated differently than average players.

  26. RE: Bynum

    I actually think we wait and see with Bynum. We can see how he plays this year and see if he is healthy or continues to be injury prone.

    If he turns out fine we give him the MAX. He won’t turn down the max. Even if he tries to sign with another team we match it and we keep him anyways.

    I highly doubt he will settle for a 1-year tender with his injury history. It is a too big a risk. Lakers are safest by waiting it out and see how Bynum plays.

    Only issues from waiting would be some distraction during the year about contract negotiations, but I honestly don’t see Bynum complaining much during the year about this. He is too young and not established enough yet to be able to publicly complain about money.

    I say Lakers play it smart and wait.

  27. I feel that waiting for next summer is the most logical option for Jerry Buss. I mean, as long as Bynum doesn’t get pissed at the team (and if the Lakers keep winning, he definitely won’t, as winning is the best cure for being pissed. See KB) Next summer when he is a restricted FA, Lakers can match any offer. So EVEN IF another team offers him max, the lakers can sign it -it’s no big deal. Not to mention not many teams will have available space next summer since everyone wants to wait for 2010 -more top players there, makes more sense to bet on that than just a handful of good players in 2009. So I feel waiting is best for the Lakers financially.

  28. Kurt,

    Your example of Howard, CP3, Wade and Lebron doesn’t apply to Bynum. He still isn’t in their class and not in the class they were in when they got their extensions. Those guys had 0 question marks about their game and health.

    The single year Bynum played well he didn’t even get past the half way point. He took 8 months to heal from a knee cap dislocation. The injury is severe but shouldn’t have taken that long to heal. Health is a huge concern for Big men and must be looked at differently than smaller players. People over 7′ tall have much more problems with their back and legs than smaller people.

    So if Bynum is a slow healer we need to be worried and be cautious with him.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE Bynum fan and at no point in his career did I agree with an trade involving him (except for Garnett). I just believe the Lakers need to be smart and only give him a MAX deal because he is not going to be health risk the rest of his career.

    I forsee the Lakers re-signing him no matter what either now or next year with no problems. Bynum even states that his game will make his case for him. So he does understand the situation he is in. He obviously wants the extension now and will hurt if he doesn’t get it, but he knows its a business and the injury set him back a year on that deal.

  29. With all this talk about Kobe getting surgery, and Bynum coming back 100%; I wouldn’t mind it if Kobe didn’t start the season because it would let the rest of the squad develop, struggle and mesh on are their own. And hopefully the surgery will allow Kobe to rest up after a long summer. I can’t wait for the season to start.

  30. with Andrew…he is soft handed, is learning to be agressive and has improved before our eyes in every single aspect of the game. Plus he is a big bodied center that can move rather quickly. Now I know that there have been many great “potential” big guys that could have been something but ended up nothing. I think Andrew is different. He is not Olowokandi who had the attitude that he didnt need to learn anything from Kareem (are you serious?). Andrew is teachable…he is in the perfect learning enviroment being a Laker and learning the uber intelligent intricacies of the Triangle under the tutelage of…Kobe, Fish, BShaw and other gaurds that have their perspective…of Lamar, Luke and Mihm and their persepctives and coaches like BShaw, Rambis and Phil Jackson…and of course Tex. And then add that to the unequivicable things he can learn from Kareem…

    add all that up to his willingness to learn…I think the kid has nothing but upside.

    You cant really play GM and focus on injury or potential injury…they are part of the game…just a nother unknown. It wouldnt be the first time a team has put forth big money and didnt get result due to some physical mishap. You got to take a chance on the potential. I think Andrew is worth it. The Lakers took a chance on some high school kid from Philly…that worked out ok I think.

  31. New post up to discuss the no surgery decision.

  32. Brandon Hoffman,
    Your statement that Andrew’s first two years were a disappointment is really amazing. How can you consider his start to be a disappointment when he is the youngest player ever drafted into the NBA, came in with limited high school experience, and was expected to take 3-4 years to develop enough to be able to play regularly?

    We all seem to forget history as soon as it occurred the day-before-yesterday. Relative to his physical development, mental and physical age, and basketball experience, Andrew has surpassed all expectations of those who were responsible for his selection. While not Lebron James, a unique talent coming out of high school, he certainly is living up to expectations for very young centers coming into the league.

    Good grief! History may not be everything, but it sure should serve to give us perspective about what is happening now.

    I don’t care if we are fans. We must at least be somewhat reasonable about our expectations.

  33. it would take him around 37-38 steps

  34. I don’t understand why they don’t do a 3 year deal like Lebron and WAde are doing. If he has health issues the Lakers benefit and if he doesn’t then he gets a bigger new deal at the end of 3 years. It seems like a win win to me. And I think people are focusing way to much on the offensive end when it comes to his worth. If a guy grabs 12+ rebounds a game and blocks 2+ shots a game (not mentioning how many he changes), then he greatly changes the game from a defensive stand point. That alone makes him a near max guy. Remember there is more than just scoring in the post. Eddy Curry gets you 20 a game from there but gives you no D or rebounds. I would rather have Bynum as he is now than Curry. And one last thing, don’t sleep on Bynums passing ability, especially in the triangle.

  35. Remember that there were other motives for the three-year deals for Wade and LeBron — both teams wanted longer deals but could only work out three year deals. One is that put pressure on the team to improve what is around the player so that said team can compete for a title (LeBron in particular), The other thing is that both of their deals will end right at the time the current CBA with the union expires. They will be able to sign deals under that new CBA that likely will be larger than what they could get currently. Which is another reason to get Bynum locked up now.

    Bottom line — I get the reservations about offering Bynum big money. But I think he is in that special class of players that gets treated differently. This is not Farmar. This is a 7-0 agile center who plays at both ends and has shown both great play and improvement. If he is healthy, I think the risks of not sighing him and bad blood building up (real or perceived) is bigger than that of another injury.

  36. Craig W. ,

    My stating that Bynum’s first two years were a disappointment has more to do with his production.

    Remember, there were serious concerns about his work ethic. And those concerns were expressed by Phil Jackson, as well as Kobe.

    Bynum didn’t develop much in his first two seasons. He simply wasn’t putting in the time to become a great player.

    Andrew obviously devoted himself to the game last summer. But I wouldn’t call that a trend until we see continued improvement over a sustained period.

  37. I still don’t see Bynum as a max player – at least not yet. Like I said, take away Kobe and will Bynum really be the franchise player? Can he create his own shot in the post? Can he anchor the D by providing solid defense in the middle? Can he stay healthy, fit and productive throughout the season? None of these questions have legitimate answers. I’m a big fan of his, and hope and pray he is the next great Lakers center, but throwing max money at him at this point is unfounded imo.

  38. In training camp if Bynum shows no lingering effects from the knee injury the Lakers need to get his contract done before the season begins. You don’t make a guy you are planning on building your team around long-term wait around “for the market to set his value”. The market is set. You pay him know because you want him to know the team is invested in him and in return you want him to be invested in the team. When people start throwing around “it’s just business” it usually is used as a justification for not treating someone in a fair manner. Business is never just business, for most people their profession (particularly high-level employees like Bynum) is very much tied into their identity and self-worth. Right now you hear Bynum saying (and in my opinion he is being genuine) that he plans on focusing on rebounding and defense to help the team, but if he is completely healthy and hears from the team that “we need to see more before we extend you”. Then he comes into the season needing to demand a larger offensive role to justify his contract next summer. This could not only wreck the chemistry of a team we all have high hopes for, but also jade Bynum and turn him into a guy who consistently puts himself before the team (and rightfully so if he can’t trust the team to take care of him).

  39. What is wrong with waiting until next year to sign Bynum? All the lakers have to do is match an offer made by another team (worst comes to worst it’s the max deal). I don’t see a problem waiting till next year, besides bynnum might get mad at the management, but if the team wins a lot this year, he won’t get mad.

    So….why is it a big deal to sign him this year?