Despite the apparent hold up, the Los Angeles Lakers have no choice. They have to trade Andrew Bynum and acquire Dwight Howard.

After's Jarrod Rudolph reported last week that Howard was excited to sign with the Lakers, Howard's agent Dan Fegan refuted those claims in a statement.

"Dwight's position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season," said Dan Fegan. "He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn."

From the outside, it appears that Howard' split personalities have shifted gears again, however, upon further introspection it makes sense.

If Commissioner Stern finds any reason to believe that Howard agreed to re-sign in free agency while he was a member of the Orlando Magic, he can veto the trade. The Lakers have already seen the specter of Stern's power.

Fegan is simply covering his clients bases by making sure there is nothing legally that Stern can use to block a potential trade.

According to Rudolph, Howard still wants to be a Laker but behind the scenes he will reportedly re-sign next summer.

Bynum, will test free agency as well but his commitment to Los Angeles may be on shakier ground.

Bynum won't sign an extension for the same reason that Howard won't. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the two big men can earn more by re-signing during the free agency period than they can by extending during the season.

By extending during or before the season, the maximum contract that either can agree to is three years and $60 million. Once their current contracts expire, Bynum and Howard can sign for a maximum of five years and $100 million.

Bynum has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors involving Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Jason Kidd for almost his entire career. In 2007, Kobe Bryant was videotaped telling a group of fans in a parking lot that Mitch Kupchak should ship "Bynum's a** out" in exchange for Jason Kidd.

Bynum proved Bryant wrong but it's possible that he may finally have enough after the season to choose creating his own legacy in another city.

He's also is the author of the eloquent "there's a bank in every city" quote after rumors of another Howard trade ratcheted up in February.

Bynum has two rings. Howard has as many as Jeremy Lin. That's zero if you're counting at home. Howard needs Bryant and the Lakers more than Bynum does.

The Cavaliers are hesitant to take part in a three-team trade that would facilitate Howard's transport to the Lakers unless Bynum signs an extension. 

Lost in all this is the relatively small price of Anderson Varejao and draft picks that Cleveland would pay for Bynum. The Cavaliers aren't attracting free agents or drafting a first rounder of Bynum's caliber anytime soon.

This isn't the same as the Rockets offering to purge their entire roster and handicap their salary cap in exchange for a reluctant Howard.


Two weeks ago, Bynum listed Cleveland amongst Dallas and Houston as franchises he would consider signing with next summer. Cleveland won't take on any bad contracts and can get ahead of the competition by bringing him into the fold sooner.

The Lakers have to make their move if they want to win a title in the short term.

Conversely, Bynum is the Mariah Carey to Cleveland's Nick Cannon. They have to make this trade because it will be a while before a young, elite big man comes along that actually wants to play in the nation's 45th largest city to pair with Kyrie Irving.

The Lakers and Cavaliers will have to take calculated risks and this trade is worth it.  Cleveland has been screwed over by Carlos Boozer and LeBron James in free agency over the last decade but it they want to become relevant in the NBA again, they'll have to find comfort in the old adage, 'third times the charm.