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Lakers hope long-term approach with Andrew Bynum pays off for possible NBA Finals matchup

It's about the only point Lakers Coach Phil Jackson conceded that he has at least thought about the NBA Finals. That is, involving, center Andrew Bynum, who often can't go without a single sentence or prepositional phrase without a mention of an injury.

With the Lakers' center playing with torn cartilage in his right knee since the beginning of the semifinal series against the Utah Jazz, the Lakers had hoped a weeklong span of rest before the West Finals against the Phoenix Suns would improve his health. But the injury remains an issue, not particularly with the current series that the Lakers lead 2-0, but further down the line should the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals presumably against the Boston Celtics.

"We'll really be watching it closely," Jackson said before the Lakers' 124-112 Game 2 victory over Phoenix where Bynum scored 13 points on five of five shooting before the game. "We know if we're fortunate enough to continue in the playoffs, there will be bigger, more powerful centers ahead."

Jackson mentioned the team limited Bynum's work Thursday to therapy and individual post moves. But as far as how the team hopes that approach pays off against Boston in an NBA Finals matchup? Jackson wouldn't go there.

"You can't worry about anything but this one right now," Jackson said.

It's hard not to wonder, considering Boston's history and their makeup of the team. With Bynum out during the 2008 NBA Finals, Boston center Kendrick Perkins owned Pau Gasol inside for much of the series. In their Eastern Conference semifinal, Perkins and Rasheed Wallace teamed up to hold Magic center Dwight Howard to three of 10 shooting in Game 1. Though Howard answered in Game 2 with 30 points, many of the baskets came deep into the shot clock. Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who's fully recovered from his right-knee injury, has made Orlando forward Rashard Lewis into a disappearing act, averaging only 5.5 points on four of 17 shooting.

In fairness, Gasol is a much different player than he was in the 2008 Finals. And he's given little indication he will deviate from the consistent production, scoring at least 20 points in six times in the last eight games. But he conceded Bynum will be heavily needed if the Lakers would advance to the NBA Finals and face either Boston or Orlando.

Some may wonder why Bynum hasn't taken a long-term absence instead of playing limited minutes, but there's a clear reason why. Besides the fact Bynum wants to play in the playoffs and is fully aware his teammates are also playing through assorted injuries, the structural part of his injury is going to require surgery, and the exact timetable of that recovery process would be unpredictable. The only reason he's sitting out in practices is so he can have maximum treatment to ensure that the swelling around his knee remains down. With all accounts saying that Bynum's not leaving himself vulnerable to structural damage in his knee, a limited Bynum is more important than an absent Bynum. Though he went scoreless in Game 3 against Utah, had six points against the Jazz in Game 4 and four points against Phoenix in Game 1, he averaged 21.33 minutes in that contest.

And even with playing only 18 minutes in Game 2 against Phoenix, Bynum scored 13 points on five of five shooting. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, whose participation in Thursday's practice only entailed therapy for his sore right knee and individual footwork, valued Bynum's limited production but refused to delve into his importance should the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

 
Comments () | Archives (12)

The comments to this entry are closed.

RICK... “If idle minds are the Devil's workshop, on this the third day with no game to watch or talk about, this board is absolutely satanic. We have a thread about Ron Artests's BROTHER, posts from "NBA players," and we've traded everyone except Kobe without waiting for the off-season.”
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LOL, Rick. It’s like halftime on the Live Blog with drunk Lakerholics trying to impersonate human traffickers.
If the Lakers win six more games this year, there is no way they are trading any of their Big 5. PERIOD !!! Time for all fantasy sports players to shut down their trade machines and just root for this team to win it all.
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EJK... “The only player I'd sign-and-trade Drew for in a heartbeat is LBJ.”
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LMAO, EJK. You are as persistent as a deranged free market anarchist looking to deregulate financial markets. Or a Tea Party activist trying to turn the clock back to allow restaurants to refuse service based on race. There is a reason why LBJ has gone fishing and why he may never win an NBA championship. He is no Kobe.
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DJ... “I hear what you are saying, but for three years everyone has said IF Drew would do this or that and stay healthy, HE'D be----But none of those things have happened. We've seen flashes, but we need more than 1 great game out of 5 out of the 40 or 50 he's played each year.”
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We will just have to agree to disagree on this, DJ. I find it ironic that most fans understand how important Drew is going to be when we meet the Celtics in the Finals but still post proposals to trade him for players who do not provide the heart of what we would lose by trading Drew – size, toughness, physicality, and potential.
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I don’t disregard Drew’s injuries but the reality is that big men are more injury prone than smaller players and many HOF players were dogged by injuries early in their careers. Trading Andrew Bynum at this point in time would akin to the New York Yankees of the 50’s and 60’s trading an injury prone Mickey Mantle.
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DAVE... “ I think every GM in the league would disagree with you. Bynum is always on wish lists, despite his injuries.”
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Excellent response to icelaker. I am always amazed at how most of the “Traders” seem to be blind, deaf, and dumb when it comes to putting together a team. What the Lakers have now with Drew, Pau, and Lamar is an unmatchable advantage in the front court and the ideal set of role players to complement Kobe Bryant.
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I still contend that Mitch Kupchak has done a great job putting this team together. When you consider how many players we have who can play and defend multiple positions and how versatile this team is with proven ability to play big or small, full or half court, fast or slow, there is no “deeper” roster in the NBA.
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LARRY... “If the Lakers were ever to consider trading Bynum, which they won't, NBA teams would be breaking the door down to be 1st in line. Bynum's prime years are still ahead of him as he's just 22 years old. True bigs don't even approach their physical maturity until 25 - 28.
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“Most of the injuries he's suffered to date have been freakish in that someone has crashed into his knee from a sideways angle. He's been in the wrong place at the wrong time, just plain bad luck. Look around the league...., which big would you replace him with? Certainly not Bosh, he's a 4, not a 5. Dwight Howard? I don't think so, look at his play in the east against Perkins.”
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“Sure, we have Pau who can play the 5 and he's very good on the offensive end, but his defensive presence doesn't really worry teams when they drive the lane. Pau doesn't alter shots like Drew does. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see how teams shy away from attacking the lane while Drew is in the game, but immediately go there when he leaves.”
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Great post, Larry, in my opinion, the RCOD. The above three paragraphs should be required reading for every Lakers fan, whether they are a Bynum supporter or critic. You responded to the three reasons why the Lakers will NOT trade Andrew Bynum: (1) Andrew’s potential is too great to trade. (2) The jury is still out on whether or not he is injury prone. (3) There is no better fit out there that would give us what Drew provides now.
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OUCHHHHHHHH... Excellent point about Kobe not forcing the issue just to record a 7th consecutive game over 30 points. I noticed the same thing and had to smile to myself when I saw Kobe on the bench enjoying the finish to the game without a thought in the world about his stats. I have said it many times that fans are insulting and disrespecting Kobe not to understand that the only stat he really cares about is the ring count. While he may take a few bad shots on occasion, he has shown he knows how to play to win so trust him
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TOM

Is it game day yet?

My Lakeraholicism is going fricken nuts right now.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Mr Atreides

"I agree with you that defenses win championships. in the case of the Lakers the team is pretty balanced as they are gifted on both sides of the court. I truly believe that this year they are stronger thanks to Artest which brings in that physical attitude. Fisher can still stand his ground pretty decently despite what people claim so thats why its important not to rush too much to acquire a PG.
Im lucky enough to have watched Rubio much more than in the Olympiads. his growth as a player has been HUGE and by the way, one of his main skills is DEFENSE. hes the best defending pg in Europe and his instinct for the defense is as good as his passing and game-tempo managing. the guy is not a mere flash as anybody that has not watched him could think. Seriously, the time to get him by a favorable trade is NOW. Once he comes to the nba and shows a bit of what hes worth, it will be impossible to "steal" him from Minney without giving away a key player.

I mentioned him as a good pg candidate for 2 reasons:

- How hard it would be for the Lakers to get Westbrook, Tyreke,etc.. any good young pg in the league would take some player the lakers are not willing to get rid of. To me its the key point: get an excellent starter without trading away an very good contributor. I see that happening only in the case of someone who has not shown up in the nba just yet.

- Rubio would have a rookie contract. bottom line, you are getting a potential allstar pg with a low salary and without turning in any of your best role players. im pretty sure the Lakers would get him for a bag of chips cos Minney already got John Flynn and last time i checked 2 pg cannot play at the same time.."
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Totally agree.
Ricky in 3 or 4 years be one of the most sought pg,
He is young he has personality, he plays very good defense
and handing out 10 assists per game safely.

YOU SHOULD KNOW ME BETTER !!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That was what Kobe Bryant had to say about anybody who thinks he is old and can’t figure it out anymore. While LBJ is stuck holding his fishing pole, Kobe Bryant is adding to his legacy as the greatest player of this generation. And growing as a player and team leader. Kobe is going to win his second straight Finals MVP.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

JON K... I loved your post listing the reasons why we are still talking about a Bynum for Bosh trade. Now that we are only 6 wins from our 16th NBA championship, our focus should be on closing out the Suns and then the Celtics. While we will certainly tweak our bench during the offseason, Lakers fans should step back and start to appreciate the great team Mitch has put together and Phil has peaking at the right time. The points you made about synergy and chemistry and the importance of putting together a roster that can play any style or speed cannot be trivialized. I contend because of the versatility of our roster, we are deeper than any other NBA team. And it all starts with our front court where no other team can cover all 48 minutes at the 4 and 5 with three quality big men like Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom. What better complement to Kobe Bryant?
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TOM

LakerTom & Jon K,

Talking trade is like an appetizer in the Lakers Blog in between games. There is nothing to talk about that has not been covered. This Bosh thing surfaced recently when CB included Lakers as one of his preferred teams in fact it fell second to the Raftors, what a way of sending a message. As such trade talks reappear this time as dessert during the playoffs - speculate, spin and evaluate in between games. It keeps everyone active and threatened one's fandom on the table. It brings back sanity to what the future will be without the powers of being a GM but a power of persuasion and rationalization. I know it is an antidote to lakerholism who can't think outside the box, it should always be in the state of delirium or euphoria of 6 more wins or dynasty ad infinitum.

LakerTom,

"There is a reason why LBJ has gone fishing and why he may never win an NBA championship. He is no Kobe."

And neither is Drew, which is why it's incredibly naive to think that Drew could carry the team to multiple championships in the future. It's about as naive as thinking you can solve all the problems in the world through diplomacy, which essentially now consists of apologizing for America, slapping around your allies, and kowtowing to your enemies.

I understand that you like dislike LBJ, but if given the opportunity, EVERY GM would make that deal. Period.

i'm sure EJK is dreaming of living off his brother Le None's fame and fortune. there is one problem. as Le Brick's brother he won't be able to tweet. he will be in charge of holding Gloria's candle.

Posted by: ouchhhhhhhh | May 22, 2010 at 07:55 AM

And I'm sure slouucchhhhh is still living off of his parents as we speak. Have you even graduated from high school yet, slouuccchhh? Judging by your non-sensical rantings and your horrible grammar, it's hard to tell if you did.

And were you by any chance measuring your calves when you claimed to have thick skin? Because if it's any consolation to you, in Mike T's world, thick calves can make up for a pea-sized brain.

Laker Tom/Edwin Gueco,

Thanks for your responses.

On a personal note, my Lakeraholicism is completely freaking out.

I think I did a fairly decent job of addressing the Bosh rumors without going complete bat-crazy because my inner Lakeraholic was screaming, "ENOUGH DISTRACTIONS! WE'VE GOT TO BEAT THE SUNS FIRST! AAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE DISCUSSING TRADE RUMORS DURING THE PLAYOFFS!!! REALLY?!?!?!?"

Lakeraholicism can be a cruel mistress at times, but its worth it.

Is it game day yet?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Wait, did I miss something? Did someone suggest a S&T for LeBron involving Bynum going to Cleveland.

It's never going to happen, but if it did, I would pretty much wet myself with glee. Kobe + Pau + LeBron + Timmmaaah + Jimmy from South Park = 2 or 3 straight titles. Seriously, it doesn't matter who else you put on the floor with them, a nucleus of those three makes Garnett/Pierce/Allen look like jr. varsity.

I know there are a lot of LeBron haters, but you've gotta admit, he is a POWER in the NBA.

Laker fan-

Did you read that Dirk might opt out? He would be great coming off your bench. Just think ... Bosh-Pau-DribbleDribble-Kobe-Lebron and LOL-Dirk off the bench. After next year you can sign Melo to also come off your bench.

I don't understand all this Bosh-Bynum trade talk. Is Bosh a center? He plays more like a PF, he's not a guy that we can say he dominates the paint. Some teams are playing like that, without a typical center, including us, when we played with Gasol & Odom as starters. No centers, just 2 tall PF alternating in the paint, works fine. That's Bosh's case. He's not a typical center and the main point is should we trade our center for a PF?
Hell no. And I'm not a Bynum hater, but he's testing my patience to the limit. He misses some easy baskets, he's always injured, etc....But Bynum for Bosh is just ludacris.
My take: I'd give Bynum 1 more year to prove what he really can do for the Lakers. 4 years is a lot, A LOT... After that, be ready for a trade (if Jim Buss have some sense in his mind...)
But Bynum for Bosh is just not good for us...
Cheers.


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