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Lakers may bench Andrew Bynum

Feb 11, 2010, 8:29 AM EDT

bynum.jpgIf there has been one chink in the Lakers armor this year, it has been bench play — what last year was an intimidating bench mob is this year an unimpressive bench sewing circle.

One potential fix — starting Lamar Odom and bringing Andrew Bynum off the bench.

“My coaches are kind of pushing me in that direction, but I’m not ready yet to do that,” (Lakers coach Phil) Jackson said. “We won last year with Andrew when he came back at the end of the season, going out there and playing the first quarter and starting the games. Even though he wasn’t 100 percent when came back off his injury last year, he still gave us a lot; he gives us a big front. So I have to measure that and see what’s going to happen with this team in the next couple weeks.”

This is a shot across Bynum’s bow, a warning. It’s an acknowledgement that Bynum and Pau Gasol have yet to really play well together. Bynum’s confidence game-to-game is based around early offensive success — if he gets early touches and a few hoops his defense and rebounding improve. But when Gasol is in and he gets those touches, Bynum goes into a shell and is not the same player, he turns into Eric Dampier.

Meanwhile, Lamar Odom and Gasol mesh beautifully, as evidenced by the last two wins without Bynum and Kobe Bryant. Bynum and Kobe can be the big culprits in why the Lakers offense “sticks,” why the ball movement stops. Bynum can be a black hole — the ball goes in and does not come out. He is not an accomplished passer. Odom may be maddeningly inconsistent, but having two good passing big men makes the triangle offense hum.

Lakers fans have a love/hate relationship with Bynum that clearly the coaches do as well. No doubt the Lakers need him to win a title — they will need his size against Denver, they will need his defense against Dwight Howard or Shaq if they make the finals. He is a matchup nightmare.

But can he bring those things from the bench? Objectively, yes. Because he would be the first guy off the bench doesn’t mean he can’t finish games if he is playing well (and the matchups are right). But Bynum is a young player still in the “I need to get mine” mentality — hence the need for early touches to be effective.

How would he ego handle coming off the bench? It may well be what’s best for the team on paper, but if it causes Bynum to go into his shell every game then it is no good. Phil would like Bynum to realize what is best for the team, and make the offer (like Luke Walton did last season when he told Jackson to start Trevor Ariza ahead of him). But Bynum probably is not mature enough for that. The Lakers need the good Bynum for the playoffs, and starting him may be the sacrifice to make sure that Bynum shows up.

  1. brooklyn kid - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    So Phil should pull Drew aside and tell him this is best for the team, of course he may first feel slighted like anyone.He does vanish once in awhile but look at the team he is on. Odom comes off the bench takes about 10 less shots per game because of Kobe, Pau and sometimes Artest.Shine when you are on the floor, deliver for you team, look at Kobe, if you told him come off the bench he would tear it up when he is on the floor, just to prove you wrong and motivate yourself, it work’s for him.The Lakers have the best team in my opinion, yes better than the Cavs and the King, they really need to do whatever they have to to defend what is their’s, Kobe will be ready, Pau will be there.Like Kobe said stop waiting for me to bail you out, look at the team’s they have beaten recently,Denver is dangerous with Melo but the Lakers with home fiels can repeat.

  2. dfontaine - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Andrew Bynum should be traded immediately. He is not the Lakers answer at center. He is moody and inconsistent. Get what you can for him and move on ! And while you are at it… TRADE LAMAR ODOM TOO !!!
    Trade em both to TORONTO for CHRIS BOSH !!!

  3. Alfredo Hernandez - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    I agree with the coaches. Odom is far more consistent than Bynum, and that’s not to say that he isn’t inconsistent, just not as much as Bynum. With Kobe, the whole dynamics of the game changes when he’s in. I know he can bring 30, 40, or more points per game but the cost of that is taking 40 to 50% of all the team’s shots, therefore denying other good shooters the chance to score and especially, when Kobe is double teamed and there’s an open man on the court. I’ve seen Kobe try shots when the entire oposing team is on him. What kind of basketball is that? Should the rest of the Lakers just hang in the back court? I admire Kobe’s skills but I would much more rather see a team that enables 3, 4 players in double figures per game and not have that “miracle shot” at the end of the game to win by a single point. Team effort like what we’ve seen in the last three games, and nobody will have to worry about OT or last minute heroics. Share the ball and leave the ego in the locker room.

  4. Doc - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Bynum should be a pro and do whatever the coaches want. Period. But I love the sweeping generalizations about Kobe and the Lakers. Kobe ALWAYS takes all the shots, blah, blah. If you watch the Lakers (and not just on sportscenter) enough you will see a team, a real team. Kobe does pass the ball and set up his teammates. Many times he is trying to get to the line but to no avail. I think that’s the times that people want to rail him for being a ball hog. But you should check his stats. He leads the team in assists (5 per). But then again, running the triangle, everyone gets assists. And there are five guys averaging double figures. In Cleveland, there’s only three. Whatever you want to say about negative about the Lakers they are the champs. It works. I am not a Lakers fan (I grew up in D.C. and have been a Wizards/Bullets fan my whole life….a lot of lean years for me) but I am a fan of basketball and the lakers are very good team.

  5. rydd - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    the thing is, better if they trade for chris bosh for bynum, and the lakers will be a better team to the finals, I say again, if bosh, is on the team, lakers will stream all the way to be champions once again!!!!!!!!!!
    Go Lakers!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Don - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    I used to think that benching Bynum was not a good idea. However, Odom and Pau both seem to play better recently with their starting roles and attacking mentalities. This, coupled with Farmar and Vujacic’s improved play off the bench, could outweigh the need for Odom to anchor the bench and offset the loss of performance that may result from Bynum’s decreased confidence.

  7. LAfan - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Unlike many NBA fans, Mr. Hernandez gets it. Basketball is a team game, and when played well and properly, it’s an amazing thing to watch. The game is not Lebron vs. Kobe. It’s the Cavs vs. the Lakers. And that’s why Kobe is not, and probably never will be, the greatest player ever. Greatness is measured by a lot more than skills and stats, and is not defined by how many times a superstar can carry a team on his back to victory. That worked for the Lakers last year primarily due to the mediocrity of the rest of the league. Put last year’s Lakers up against any of the truly great TEAMS of the last 30 or so years, and they have virtually no chance in a seven game series. Probably none of these are likely, but turn Kobe into a leader instead of a performer, kick Bynum in the ass and make him grow up and play to his huge potential, get and keep the rest of the team truly involved, and the result would be a real dynasty unlike any pro sport has seen in a very long time.

  8. Pig MIller - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Bynum would work better with Farmar on the second unit anyway. Jordan tends to go away from the Triangle because of his ability to penetrate. Doing so often draws the big man in the paint off of his man, leaving the offensive big free. Farmar to Bynum on lobs after lobs after lobs seems just fine for good offensive production and keeping Drew’s attention. I think Drew might be happier running with the young guns anyway.

  9. Tman - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    people should start sending messages to Kobe through his website about the importance of team play. the Lakers have been succeeding as of late because they’re getting everybody involved. i hope that the Black Mamba realizes this. they shouldn’t trade Bynum because they’re gonna get bullied by the Cavs and the Lakers inside. what they need to do is to upgrade their point guard. trade Farmar and Sasha for someone who could guard all star guards such as Rondo and Mo Williams…

  10. Tman - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    i’m sorry, get bullied by the Cavs and Celtics rather…

  11. Bizzle - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Nurture Bynum, give hims some time. If he actually completes a full season he could be a BEAST. Once Bynum and Pau start clicking no one eill come close. NO ONE. The Lakers are really good with Lamar and Pau clicking, they could be GREAT with Pau and Bynum clicking

  12. Denbo - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Alfredo is absolutly right. The game should already be won WAY before the final buzzer. Bynum’s chief asset is his size. He scores fine when he is the only one under the basket, but Gasol is the superior player. Phil has his hands full trying to make it all work BUT, that’s what the best coach has to do – that’s what makes “the best coach” best.

  13. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    what arte you talking asbout trade odom what does that do for our bench powell mbenka really are you serious

  14. l.j. griffin - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Bynum is so unpredictable,he just doesn’t seem to play at his potentals,and he plays so weak at his position.I’m hoping the boy gets better because for some reason I want to see him as a Laker.

  15. RealisticLaker - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Please do not let this person near another keyboard, for he knows not of what he speaks.

  16. Jsmith - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    That is the most asinine thing I’ve read

  17. Rich - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    Anyone who thinks the Lakers should trade Odom,Farmar or Vujacic is ready for embalming. First of all, look at how all three of the aformentioned guys are playing since Kobe took a rest? Sasha is great on defense, Jordan has found his shot and is nailing 3’s and cutting to the basket with ease, and Lamar is just doing everything around the basket. The l;ast 3 games have been the most fun to watch for me personally because of the great ball movement and the D has really stepped up. Look at all the turnovers they caused both Utah and San Antonio. Maybe bringing Bynum off the bench might not be a bad idea. They can at least try it and see whether it increases his motivation. Anyway you look at it, the Lakers are great and I just hope they stay champions for years

  18. wizard of Ozola - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:19 PM


  19. Kirk - Feb 11, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    First of all big men need to get there touches, whoever they are.
    Secondly, Kobe doesn’t care about the other players getting their touches as long as the Lakers are on course to repeat. His stats are more important to him then the team playing to their potential. They clearly have more talent then Cleveland but their record is an embarrassment.
    Lastly, I got a big kick out of your amusing comment: “Phil would like Bynum to realize what is best for the team, and make the offer (like Luke Walton did last season when he told Jackson to start Trevor Ariza ahead of him).” Walton can’t play, none the less start. He wouldn’t even be on the team if he wasn’t Bill’s son.

  20. TRAMP - Feb 11, 2010 at 5:08 PM


  21. DCLAKERFAN - Feb 11, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    dude you need to go enjoy another sport like turtle racing because you apparently know nothing about basketball take note shaq,kareem wilt dhoward werejust as raw as andrew see how they turned out remember this kid is young and talented
    ps remember the numbers on the turtles in case they ate too fast for you

  22. Rod Roberts - Feb 11, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    trade Lamar??? you are not very smart.

  23. pb - Feb 11, 2010 at 8:10 PM

    I really hope that Bynum can accept the role of coming off the bench for the next couple of years. He can actually have better number doing so as he could be the offensive force in that role. What backup center can guard Andrew in the league? Furthermore, the biggest obstacle for Drew is foul trouble. He won’t have that problem as much coming off the bench. The refs tend to call tighter at the beginning of the game to get a control of it, so he can avoid foul trouble which can increase his PT overall. Also, his defensive woes won’t be as big a problem, as most of the 2nd unit bigs tend to have less polished offensive game. I hope Bynum can be mature enough to accept this role.

  24. Rev - Feb 11, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    I read all those comments about the LAKERS; talk about someone who has a lot of time on his hand. Some of the comments where quality comments while others boarder on the line of idiotic. Never the less that is what makes this world go around. You will always have those who can do a better job than those who are getting paid top dollars to make the decisions that will keep the Lakers Champions. I am a self proclaimed top 5 Laker fan in the whole wide world and all I know is that Kobe is arguably the best player in the game today (Yes even better than LaBron) LaBron can’t even sit at Kobe’s table until he wins atlease one title. I know many will complain about that comment but it is the truth. Until the Lakers lose they are the Champs and as far as I can see they have the best team and like all teams adjustments need to be made through out the year. Phil will do what he has to do to produce another Champion this year and all those other coaches, executives, etc… will what they need to do to keep the Lakers on top. Thank goodness they are not reading some of these comments, then again maybe they should. Everyone needs a good laugh every now and again. -Peace

  25. lm - Feb 11, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    Watching Kobe play is painful. So selfish, so caring about himself only. The last three wins are a loud statement. It is time for Kobe to lay team ball. Phil Jackson should be firm about this. Let other players play also.

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