Andrew Bynum's 24th birthday is a reminder of his development
Andrew Bynum remains a kid at heart, finding joy in fixing phones, computers and remote-controlled cars.
There are other reminders about his youth, such as some immature acts that included committing dirty fouls or parking in illegal handicap spots. And of course, with Thursday marking his 24th birthday, Bynum has plenty of years ahead of him.
Bynum's birthday also provides a reminder of how far he's come since the Lakers drafted him with the 10th pick of the 2005 draft. Then, at 18 years and six days old, Bynum was the youngest player ever selected in the NBA draft. He immediately showed how much the Lakers thought his potential alone proved worthy of a long-term project.
Kobe Bryant's profanity-laced comment in 2007 that the Lakers should've traded Bynum for Jason Kidd went ignored. The Lakers also held tight through Bynum's frequent injuries. The result: Bynum played a heavy part in helping the Lakers win the 2010 NBA Finals despite playing through a lateral mensicus tear in his right knee. After missing the first 24 games of the 2010-11 season because of a controversial offseason surgery, Bynum responded with a strong defensive presence and his best postseason yet.
Bynum now appears at a crossroads.
His future looks promising. The Lakers' front office, namely Jim Buss, insists he's protected in trade talks. Coach Mike Brown plans to use him as a focal part of the offense. Bynum finally has an injury-free offseason, which he's spent taking boxing lessons, improving his mobility and post-up moves.
Bynum's future also looks uncertain. The Lakers would likely have to waive Bynum's $16.1 million option for the 2012-13 season should they actually have a chance to land Dwight Howard. Bryant sounded unenthusiastic about Bynum's hope for a larger offensive role. And, of course, there's the possibility Bynum may suffer another injury.
Just as Bynum's six-year career has proven thus far, it remains hard to predict the outcome.
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Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum reflects on the season as he talks to reporters at the team's practice facility in El Segundo. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / May 10, 2011