Apr 3, 2012, 5:16 PM EDT
This shouldn’t be a shock with a Lakers team trying to establish the power of coach Mike Brown — and the rebellious Andrew Bynum having all the leverage — but you have to wonder how it will play out long term.
The Lakers have fined their All-Star center Bynum, reports Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Bynum told ESPNLosAngeles.com he was unaware of the fine before getting into his car outside the Lakers practice facility and driving away after the team’s shootaround in preparation for their game against the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday.
Bynum did tell the website, though, he will not play in Tuesday night’s game after suffering a moderate sprain of his left ankle in the first quarter of a game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
The ankle sprain may be the real reason he is out Tuesday against the Nets, but there are bigger issues here.
But he also has the leverage here. The Lakers have yet to pick up his $16.1 million option for next season. If they threaten not to pick it up he says “fine, I become and unrestricted free agent and will actually make more with the max contract I would pick up on the open market.” The Lakers are getting him below the market value at $16.1 million, and they have no choice but to take it.
(I hear some Lakers fans screaming now about his injury history and his immaturity and how Kobe Bryant carried him and whatever else. Doesn’t matter — Bynum would get the max on the open market, he is an All-Star center in a league desperate for traditional bigs. You may not wish it to be so, but the market will say he is a max player. Deal with it.)
What’s more, after next season Bynum is an unrestricted free agent and if you are going to keep him as the bridge to the post-Kobe era you need to keep him happy or he can bolt. If he is acting like a petulant child, your options are limited.
So the Lakers have opted for the fine. I can feel Bynum’s shrug from here.