The gamble the playoff-hopeful Cleveland Cavaliers took on Andrew Bynum was a bust. Though he showed flashes of his old self this season, he has begrudgingly admitted that he might never be the same player again and his detrimental conduct only compounds his falling worth. Following the 76ers’ footsteps, the Cavs are said to be eager to part ways with the towering heap of trouble, with the latest trade rumor putting Bynum back in a Laker jersey in exchange for Pau Gasol and other assets.
The modern-era Lakers are known for their head-scratching management decisions but they’re not actually interested in giving the big guy another go. So keep the tears in check. This would strictly be a salary dump for them.
You’d only have to look at their history with the disgruntled and disjointed center to know the organization has no plans to give Bynum court time. They know all too well about Bynum’s lack of professionalism. Whether he was swatting point guard-sized gnats out of the air or exhibiting a lack of commitment to the game of basketball, the Lakers organization were willing to give up on his upside in exchange for rights to Dwight Howard and his own diva complex knowing that Bynum brings too much baggage with him. In short, Buss and Co. are not on a suicide mission.
The Gasol-Bynum swap would be a financial decision as sending the Spaniard to the Midwest would clear $20 million in salary and luxury taxes from the Lakers books. Because of Bynum’s favorable contract, they would waive the walking bad hair day after taking him on. Short-term, the move would hurt the Lakers’ talent pool but could be a long-term boost of financial flexibility, youth development, and talent acquisition.
Because the Lakers would want favorable assets in any Gasol swap, and because of the league rules on the difference in salaries, the Cavs would have to include a young prospect and/or a future draft pick in the mix for the Lakers to bite.
Given what Gasol has provided for the Lakers franchise, ideally, you would want him landing in an opposite conference contender or playoff team, not the doomed Cavaliers. But a dealing with the Cavs – for Bynum of all people – could be just the turnaround the slumping Lakers need.