In some parallel universe, where 82-game schedules and contract talks didn't exist, Andrew Bynum would be entering his senior year at the University of Connecticut.
But he jumped from oblivion into the NBA draft a year before 17-year-olds were banned, and there he was Tuesday night, going up against Portland center Greg Oden.
It has been an interesting month, along with an interesting week for Bynum, who will find out in the next few days if he's an $85-million player.
The Lakers have until Friday to give him an extension of up to five years, though there has been only minimal movement in talks.
Bynum's agent, David Lee, still wants maximum money, if not a shade below, and the Lakers are offering a little more than $10 million a season over the life of the contract. Bynum makes $2.8 million this season in the last year of his contract.
If Friday comes and goes without any progress, Bynum becomes a restricted free agent next July, at which point the Lakers can match any offer sheet he signs.
On the court, he looked a little rusty in his first game since Jan. 17, finishing with eight points and three rebounds.
The way Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was talking before the game, anything more than 10 points and eight rebounds would be an unexpected bonus from Bynum.
"He's still the young guy on our team," Jackson said. "We're not asking him to do anything but rebound and defend."
Just the same, Bynum was seen practicing his timing on alley-oop dunks an hour before the game, with assistant coaches throwing him lob after lob.
Jackson also wants Bynum to "catch and deliver" more often -- code for "Hurry up in the post before the hackers come to foul you."
Bynum, who had a bash at a Hollywood club the night before his 21st birthday, became a local YouTube sensation Tuesday when video of the soiree leaked out.
Bynum could be seen wearing sunglasses and flicking dollar bills into the crowd while lip-synching to a song by rapper Li'l Wayne.
Jackson saw the video by accident, he said, while looking at a YouTube clip sent by a friend of a postgame outburst by San Francisco 49ers Coach Mike Singletary.
"I guess that's kind of what we have to expect in this day and age with some of our young players," Jackson said. "A lot of it's about being online, being broadcast on YouTube or something and putting yourself out there."
Jackson said Bynum assured him it wasn't a lot of money being tossed around.
"He said it was only $100 -- all ones," Jackson said.
Where's the Sun?
Rookie Sun Yue and center DJ Mbenga were on the inactive list for Tuesday's game, a situation that probably won't change soon.
Sun, a second-round pick from the 2007 draft, is still finding his way through the Lakers' triangle offense.
A native of China, he speaks pretty good English, though he usually has an interpreter to help relay on-court directions from coaches.
Sun probably will log some time in the Development League for the Lakers' affiliate, the D-Fenders, who begin play Nov. 28.