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NBA

NBA Free Agency: Lakers pick up Andrew Bynum’s option for next season

03/20/2012 at 11:38 am By

The Los Angeles Lakers had faith that when they drafted center Andrew Bynum 10th overall out of high school in 2005 that he would some day develop into a star and replace Shaquille O’Neal as of the best post players in the NBA.

This season Bynum has rewarded the Lakers for their patience by averaging career-highs in points (18.1) rebounds (12.9) and minutes played (36.2). Bynum was also named the starting center in the 2011-2012 all-star game.

For his efforts, the Lakers have decided to exercise the 2012-2013 option on Bynum’s contract. Bynum will make $16.4 mil next season, third most on the Lakers behind fellow all-star Kobe Bryant ($27.8 mil) and Pau Gasol ($19 mil).

“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, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We’re ecstatic to have him on the team.”

Bynum sounds amenable to opening up long-term contract talks.

“I want to sign,” Bynum told ESPNLosAngeles.com following the Lakers shootaround in Houston on Tuesday. “I want to be a Laker.”

The Lakers would be well served by signing Bynum long term. Bynum would give LA a centerpiece to build their team around in the twilight of Bryant’s career. Bynum has proven capable of carrying a heavy load offensively this season, and was recently named Western Conference Player of the Week for March 12-18.

Bynum’s development has quieted the Lakers supposed pursuit of Dwight Howard. Bynum has played at a high level this season while remaining healthy, which has been an issue for the 24-year old 7-footer throughout his seven-year career.

Bynum has averaged 11.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 1.6 bpg in seven years with the Lakers but has only played a full season once, in 2006-07. Bynum was suspended for the first four games of this season but has only missed one other contest due to injury. If he can remain healthy Bynum should be entrenched as the starting center in the west for years to come.

-ALR

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