Thursday , Oct , 30 , 2008 Oly Sandor

$58 million gamble: L.A. Lakers paying for Andrew Bynum’s potential

Even with the dead real estate market, roller coaster stock exchange, and world economy contracting, Los Angeles still found a 4 year, 58 million dollar contract extension in the couch cushions for Andrew Bynum. Yes, the NBA remains great work if you can get it, isolated from the financial realities of the real world …

$58 million gamble: L.A. Lakers paying for Andrew Bynum's potentialTheir News: "The Los Angeles Lakers signed Andrew Bynum to a contract extension Thursday, removing the possibility the 21-year-old center would become an unrestricted free agent next summer." (ESPN.com)

Our Quick Analysis: Even with the dead real estate market, roller coaster stock exchange, and world economy contracting, Los Angeles still found a 4 year, 58 million dollar contract extension in the couch cushions for Andrew Bynum.

Yes, the NBA remains great work if you can get it, isolated from the financial realities of the real world. After all, the Lakers are paying for potential or what Bynum should do in future seasons. And they’re paying handsomely.

On the one hand, this contract is a risk. Bynum did average 13 points and 10 rebounds in his third NBA season, but those numbers came in a condensed thirty-five game audition. His other two seasons, he resembled an enigma -sometimes showing promise and sometimes faltering.

On the other hand, this contract is a no-brainer. Legit, play-the-paint seven-footers are endangered species. And Bynum’s long frame and shot blocking makes him a possible defensive anchor. The young pro could easily drop 15-20 points, grab double figure rebounds, and add a few blocks each night.

Two schools of thought exist on Bynum. And L.A. could’ve waited to extend their young five-man because he is only a restricted free agent in July. Other factors likely pushed the club to make a deal.

Kobe Bryant will opt-out in July. As an unrestricted free agent, he will have his pick of teams, terms, and can command a fortune, especially with the availability of European Petro dollars. Having Bynum locked-up will help ensure Black Mamba signs on the dotted line with Hollywood.

Signing Bynum next summer could cost more than extending him today. Suppose the New Jersey native averages 15 points, 11 rebounds, and plays 75 games this season (easily attainable numbers). Several GMs would back-up the brinks truck and float a massive offer sheet to the restricted free agent in July.

The Lakers would match and be on the hook for more money and a longer term. This scenario is not improbable. An up-and-coming big would see a very different restricted free agency market than Ben Gordon.

So signing Bynum seems like a gamble. Given the circumstances, what choice did Los Angeles have?

Is Bynum’s extension a risk? Should the Lakers have waited to extend him? Get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of tokai21.