It seems unlikely, but the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Browns have had talks about a trade that would send former Laker, the enigmatic Andrew Bynum, back to L.A. for apparently disgruntled big man Pau Gasol.
Bynum, 26, was an all-star on the brink of reaching another plateau when he was traded to Philadelphia before last season. Knee troubles kept him out of the 2012-13 season, and he was eventually unloaded to Cleveland, where he recently showed signs of getting into shape and flashes of the healthy Bynum.
However, he was suspended for one game and banned from the team indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team,” defined by sources as being disrespectful to coaches. Now, the Cavs are looking to trade him before they cut him.
Meanwhile, Gasol has grown increasingly disgruntled with coach Mike D’Antoni’s system that does not maximize his skill set with his back to the basket. Gasol has hinted at embracing a trade.
A deal involving the Lakers and Cavaliers and the two big men is not believed to be imminent, according to ESPN.com. But the teams are contemplating it in advance of the Jan. 7 deadline for the second half of Bynum’s $12.25 million salary to become guaranteed.
Here’s a reason why the Lakers would want to make a deal for Bynum: By trading Gasol in a package for Bynum and then waiving Bynum, the team could save more than $20 million in salary and luxury taxes, which could help them maintain financial flexibility heading into the next few summers. A Gasol-Bynum trade would have to include at least one other player to make the deal work under league rules, and perhaps other assets from Cleveland.
The Lakers are reluctant to part with the four-time All-Star in any trade without receiving assets of some value in return, sources said.
The Cavs have been after Gasol since this past summer, when they had extensive discussions with the Lakers, sources said.
Bynum, who was an All-Star and won two championship rings with the Lakers before being traded in a deal for Dwight Howard in 2012, averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 24 games with the Cavs. Bynum said because of the knee troubles, he was not certain how long he will continue playing.
If he is waived by the Cavs or any team that might trade for him by Jan. 7, Bynum likely would have multiple offers to join a team as a free agent.