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Lakers to exercise team option on Andrew Bynum

The team has until June 30 to exercise the $16.1-million option they have for the last year of the center's contract. Bynum can become a free agent after next season.

March 19, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Memphis center Marc Gasol defends against Lakers center Andrew Bynum during the first half of Tuesday's game.
Memphis center Marc Gasol defends against Lakers center Andrew Bynum during… (Mark Humphrey / Associated…)

The definition of a no-brainer?

The Lakers plan to exercise their team option on Andrew Bynum.

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

The Lakers have until June 30 to exercise the $16.1-million option they have for the last year of Bynum's contract. After next season, however, he becomes a free agent unless they negotiate an extension between now and then.

Bynum, 24, has been getting steadily better this season, topping out this month with some eye-catching numbers.

In March he is averaging 24 points and 13.1 rebounds while shooting 65.7% in 10 games. He is also averaging 41 minutes this month.

Of equal importance to the Lakers, Bynum has played all 41 games he has been eligible for this season, a solid start for a player who logged an entire 82-game slate only once in his first six seasons, missing large swaths of time in the past because of knee problems.

Fisher and King?

If the Miami Heat pursues Derek Fisher, LeBron James would be fine with it.

"One thing you know about Derek Fisher is that he's a winner; he's not afraid of the moment and he's won multiple championships," James told reporters Monday. "I don't know what our plans are, but I don't see it as a bad fit it if happens … because of his leadership and his commitment to winning."

Fisher, 37, was traded from the Lakers to Houston last week, but the Rockets bought him out of a contract that would have paid him $4.4 million through next season. If he clears waivers Wednesday, Fisher becomes a free agent and can sign with any team except the Lakers.

Getting defensive?

Maybe the Lakers should pull out those DVDs that Coach Mike Brown gave them over the summer for a quick refresher on defense.

Over their last seven games, the Lakers have given up an average of 101.3 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot 46.1%. Those numbers are particularly annoying for a team that has been one of the stingiest in the NBA under Brown, surrendering only 92.9 points per game (seventh-best in the league) while limiting opponents to 42.4% shooting (tied with Miami for second-best).

"We're back trying to outscore teams and it's not working out for us, so we need to hold teams down," Bynum said. "That's how we get a lot of our wins. Even if we're winning ugly, with 94 points and they're scoring 83. A win is a win."

It's not just the usual suspects who have been tough to stop lately. Utah reserve guard Alec Burks scored 17 points Sunday during the Jazz's 103-99 victory over the Lakers, including three baskets in the final 4:01. Utah backup big man Enes Kanter also repeatedly maneuvered around Bynum for layups on the way to 17 points.

"I gave some people points that really don't score," Bynum said. "Defense kind of falls on my shoulders as the center, and I could have done a better job clogging the lane."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

Times staff writer Ben Bolch contributed to this report.

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