Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said that he spoke with Andrew Bynum's… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)
As free agency progresses, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak finds himself sleeping fewer hours.
And that routine is unlikely to change.
Even after acquiring an elite point guard (Steve Nash) and two forwards (Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill), Kupchak hardly sounded as if the Lakers are entering the 2012-13 season with their final roster. The most critical question involves their center Andrew Bynum. Kupchak said he talked with Bynum's representive, David Lee, on Wednesday about a long-term contract extension, a meeting he described as "positive and productive."
But is such a Bynum signing imminent?
"The next day or two? The next week or two?" Kupchak asked. "No I don't think so. Hopefully it progresses."
The Lakers are still hoping to trade for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, but numerous reports suggest Orlando is in no hurry to ship the disgruntled center. Regardless, Bynum would likely be the centerpiece if such a deal took place. It could then hinge on what contracts the Lakers would absorb and whether the Magic, or a third team, would want Bynum without any assurances that he would sign an extension.
Bynum, who is slated to make $16.1 million this season, has publicly expressed interest in signing a long-term extension with the Lakers. But Lee recently told The Times' Ben Bolch that his client has not told him whether he would sign a contract extension with another team besides the Lakers.
Larry Coon, an independent NBA salary cap expert and IT director at UC Irvine, recently told The Times that if Bynum signed a maximum, five-year contract with his current team at the end of the 2012-13 season, he could make up to $101.9 million over the life of the deal. If Bynum signed with a new team at that point, those figures would drop to four years and a maximum of $75.7 million over the life of the contract, factoring in 4.5% annual raises.
The Lakers still must add some bench players. They're not expected to keep Troy Murphy and Matt Barnes. Kupchak remained non-committal on signing rookies Darius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre. Even though Devin Ebanks' agent told the Times that they reached a one-year deal for about $1 million for Ebanks to stay with the Lakers, they haven't signed a contract.
It appears Kupchak is hoping to complete the roster by signing more players at the veteran's minimum. The Lakers still have a mini mid-level exception worth $3 million, but Kupchak said it's "unlikely" they'll use it unless there's "credible value."
"We can always get better," Kupchak said. "We still have another roster spot to look at or two. So we're looking. Maybe a backcourt player."
Regardless of how that turns out, Kupchak suggested the Lakers will remain patient on upgrading their roster.
"Typically it slows down in August," he said. "But the brakes are never on."