Andrew Bynum was one of the most improved players this season.
He's always been praised as being one of the most talented players in the game, but was often inconsistent and injured. This year, he averaged career highs with 18.7 points per game and 11.8 rebounds.
Bynum made his first All-Star team and was probably the best center in the Western Conference.
With Bynum emerging as one of the best players in the NBA, would the Lakers look to trade him before the start of next season?
Los Angeles was eliminated from the second round of the playoffs for the second straight year on Monday with their Game 5 loss to the Thunder. The Lakers have a long tradition of winning, and anything short of a championship is viewed as a disappointment.
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If the Lakers want to contend for a title over the next couple of years, they will likely have to shake up their roster.
Pau Gasol may be the player the Lakers would prefer to trade. He had his least productive season this past year, and is now the second best big man on the team's frontline. But Bynum probably has the most value of any Laker.
Gasol's age, declining production and extensive contract make him a less attractive commodity. If L.A. were to trade Bynum, they'd still have one of their big men, and would be able to get a lot of talent in exchange.
The Lakers would have to get a lot of talent back to pull the trigger on such a move. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith suggested two possible blockbuster trades that could result in the Lakers moving Bynum.
First, he suggested that Los Angeles could trade Bynum in a package to Miami for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat have had trouble with the Pacers in their playoff series, and there's been speculation that management may want to break the Big 3 up.
Smith also suggested a trade with the Nets. Deron Williams is a free agent, but if he signed with Brooklyn, a package of Brook Lopez and him could possibly land the Nets Bynum. Brooklyn would most likely do the deal, because Williams might only sign with them as part of a sign-and-trade. That deal would give the Lakers the point guard they need, as well as another big man.
The biggest obstacle in making that trade would be getting Williams to sign with Brooklyn. Williams reportedly wants to sign with the Mavericks in the summer.
A swap for Dwight Howard is still a possibility. Even after the firing of Stan Van Gundy, Howard reportedly still wants to be traded from Orlando. The Lakers were reluctant to trade Bynum for Howard during the season, but might change their minds after another quick exit in the second round.
Besides the fact that Bynum could net them another star player, the Lakers center has clashed with head coach Mike Brown. Brown benched him in the regular season for taking a three-pointer and often ignores team huddles.
Bynum has just one more year left on his contract, and L.A. might be skeptical of giving a lot of money to someone who's shown a refusal to listen to his head coach.
Andrew Bynum is one of the most valuable commodities in the NBA-a young, big man who is finally realizing his potential. The Lakers, though, may decide it's time for a change after two straight disappointing finishes to their season.