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Andrew Bynum still in Lakers' plans

'Nothing has changed' about Bynum's status despite recent events, GM Mitch Kupchak says

April 03, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to swat the ball away from Portand's Raymond Felton during a game on March 23. The Lakers say Bynum is part of their plans down the road.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to swat the ball away from Portand's… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers acknowledged displeasure with some of Andrew Bynum's recent on-court transgressions but said he was still part of their master plan.

"Despite some of the events of the last week or two, nothing has changed about our forward approach with Andrew," General Manager Mitch Kupchak told The Times in an interview Tuesday, adding that he "absolutely" envisioned Bynum with the Lakers down the road.

"Sometimes with young players I get disappointed and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised. Andrew continues to have a mix of good moments and maybe not-so-good moments. But he's very bright, a really intelligent kid."

Kupchak told The Times last month that the Lakers planned to exercise their $16.1-million option on Bynum's contract next season. They have until June 30 to do so.

"He's the starting center on the West All-Star team. Why wouldn't we do everything we could to keep him here?" Kupchak said last month. "We're ecstatic to have him on the team."

After next season, however, Bynum becomes a free agent unless the Lakers sign him to a contract extension. Negotiations have not begun, though there is not a pressing deadline.

As The Times reported Sunday, Bynum was fined an undisclosed sum for events surrounding the March 27 Golden State game.

He was benched by Coach Mike Brown in that game for taking an ill-advised three-point attempt and said afterward he wouldn't hesitate to keep taking them.

After last Saturday's narrow victory over New Orleans, Bynum said he didn't take part in team huddles during timeouts because he was resting and "getting my Zen on."

The Lakers have been unhappy with Bynum's lack of effort in the defensive end. Furthermore, his rebounding average fell from 13.7 in February to 10.9 in March.

Kupchak met with Bynum last week but did not specify what they discussed.

"I'm just going to decline to rehash stuff that happened," Kupchak said. "Our position is we dealt with it internally."

Bynum, 24, is in his seventh NBA season. He was an All-Star for the first time and was averaging career-highs across the board before sustaining a sprained left ankle Sunday in another game against Golden State.

Bynum did not play Tuesday against New Jersey, but a more important date for his return would be Wednesday against the Clippers. The Lakers and Clippers have split two games this season and Wednesday is the last time they play each other in the regular season.

The head-to-head tiebreaker is at stake Wednesday, in case the teams tie in the standings. The Clippers are also trying to win the season series against the Lakers for the first time since 1992-93.

Bynum was averaging 18.3 points and 12.1 rebounds before leaving Sunday's game in the first quarter after an awkward landing on his ankle.

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