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Bynum and Gasol look to find the other

October 21, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Bresnahan is a Times staff writer.

It's not exactly the Shaw-Shaq Redemption, but Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum continue to work on feeding each other around the basket, with incremental improvement on a game-by-game basis.

They looked for each other a number of times Sunday in the Lakers' exhibition against Toronto, with varying degrees of success.

Bynum drew fouls twice while going for lobs from Gasol, though Bynum failed to connect with Gasol on one particular play, passing up a short jump hook by trying in vain to pass through two players to Gasol.

"We definitely have a lot more high-low post action going on," Bynum said. "I think you're going to see more of that as I get my legs back to 100% and everything. I'll be able to throw some of those dunks down."

Bynum, who is still getting into NBA-level shape after being sidelined since January because of a knee injury, converted two dunks on alley-oop passes Sunday, one from Kobe Bryant and the other from Vladimir Radmanovic.

Off the court, the Lakers and Bynum remain apart on contract extension talks.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Bynum's agent, David Lee, met Friday for about an hour at the team's training facility, though the only agreement to come from it was to talk again in the near future.

Lee is seeking a five-year extension for his client worth an estimated $17 million a year, while the Lakers are more comfortable paying Bynum about $10 million a year, possibly with incentives for All-Star appearances and team playoff success.

As per terms of the collective-bargaining agreement, teams can only offer incentives that move an annual salary upward. Bynum could not be penalized financially for missing games because of injuries.

The Lakers like the potential of Bynum and want to sign him for another five years, though they feel the need to protect themselves financially in case Bynum gets injured again.

If the sides don't agree to a deal by Oct. 31, Bynum plays the final year of a contract worth $2.8 million this season and becomes a restricted free agent July 1.

At that time, the Lakers could match any offer he signed with another team, or Bynum could sign a one-year qualifying offer with the Lakers for about $3.8 million and become an unrestricted free agent in July 2010.

In the current negotiations, there is room for flexibility.

Bynum could sign for, say, only three years and own the right to leave if he felt he could successfully test the market down the road.

Along those lines, he could sign the full five-year extension with opt-out clauses a year or two before its completion.

The Lakers declined to comment. Lee could not be reached for comment.

Bynum, who turns 21 next Monday, said he wasn't affected by the ongoing discussions.

"Not really, because if I go out and play the way I'm supposed to, it'll take care of itself," he said.

Bynum was pleased that he didn't have any issues with his surgically repaired knee after playing consecutive exhibitions Saturday and Sunday.

"It was cool to be able to get out there and play two games in a row and nothing happened to my knee," he said. "Everything's been fine."

Bynum is averaging 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in five exhibitions.

Odom OK

Lamar Odom seems increasingly comfortable coming off the bench, a move he verbally vetoed when it was initially presented as an option a few weeks ago.

"He's enjoying himself," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "He's moving the ball, he's finding open teammates. He's kind of the leader on that sequence of guys."

As if on cue, Odom told reporters after practice that he would do whatever was asked of him.

"Come off the bench, or coach . . . or be a mascot," he said, smiling.

Roster reduced

The Lakers trimmed their roster to 17 players on Monday by waiving guard Brandon Heath.

Second-year guard Coby Karl, second-round pick Joe Crawford and undrafted rookie forward C.J. Giles are fighting for the final spot if the team ends up taking the league-maximum 15 players into the regular season.


Sasha Vujacic, who has battled soreness in his left ankle, went through a full practice for the first time in three weeks. "I saw him limping a little bit one time, but no complaints. He looked pretty good," Jackson said. . . . Radmanovic sustained a sprained middle finger on his left hand in Sunday's game. X-rays were negative, and he is listed as day-to-day. He wore a splint on the finger Monday and took part in about half the practice.

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