No done deal, not even close, but a weird twist of fate and most of all disappointment and financial thinking might lead the Los Angeles Lakers to trade Pau Gasol to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum. The Chicago Bulls, using Luol Deng, might also get involved in the transaction somehow.
Not that the Lakers actually want Bynum. They want his contract, and especially the part of it that allows him to be released before January 7 without having to pay him anything beyond that point in time. Bynum is averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds this season, playing 20 minutes a night. His comeback season has been filled with ups and downs, but recently his attitude (not for the first time in his career) seems to be getting in the way, and the Cavs have suspended him.
So it’s about making the most of a bad situation. The Cavaliers still want to make the playoffs, and even without showing too much passion for basketball, Bynum is an asset plenty of teams will take on considering he’s a proven center in the NBA. Not at the salary he’s currently being paid, but if he’s a free agent teams will be willing to discuss adding him.
What about the Lakers? Pau Gasol continues to struggle and disappoint. The biggest problem is he’s being paid a lot of money to do it. With the Cavs trying to make the postseason, getting Gasol while getting rid of Bynum words well for them. Gasol, leaving the D’Antoni system, should once again thrive as a post-player. For the Lakers this means saving almost $20 million in tax money and going below the luxury tax for the first time in years.
How do the Bulls fit in? Luol Deng and his $14 million contract might also get involved somehow, as the Cavs have been holding separate discussions with the Chicago Bulls. A trade and waive deal for the Bulls could save them the same kind of money the Lakers are looking to cut back on. However, Chicago keep saying they aren’t trading Deng and want to re-sign him. Whether that’s true or not, they’re listening to offers and considering options.
Bynum loses from this either way. Instead of getting the money he fought for, he’ll be released, unless he somehow convinces the Cavs that he’s turning the corner and becoming the center he used to be before the injury that kept him out of the entire 2012-2013 season, with the 76ers being the ones who suffered more than anyone.