Details on the Deal: Andrew Bynum
The Lakers announced the signing of Andrew Bynum to a multi-year extension on Thursday afternoon, locking up the center that appeared in 35 games last season and averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game before suffering a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 13 against Memphis.
“This has been a fantastic week for me so far: turning 21, winning our first two games of the season, and now getting this new contract signed,” said Bynum. “This gives me and my family financial security, and more importantly, cements my future with the Lakers, which in my opinion is the best organization in all of professional sports. I couldn’t be happier.”
After the announcement of the contract agreement, we spoke to Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak about the process.
MT: Can you take us through your negotiations with Bynum’s agent leading up to the Oct. 31st NBA-mandated deadline?
Kupchak: Early on in the summer Andrew’s representative and myself did talk about the process, and basically what we both agreed on was the fairest thing for both parties would be to negotiate after (Bynum) was back on the court and has shown that he’s healthy, and also that he can get back to the level of play he was playing at in January. It’s not a process that could continue into the season, but where you have until Oct. 31 (due to the deadline). Keeping that in mind, there was some urgency to get something done with both parties feeling as if they had all the information they needed.
MT: So it was clear that both sides felt that they had seen enough, particularly regarding Bynum’s health?
Kupchak: We wanted to be comfortable, and Andrew wanted to be comfortable that he’s playing at peak condition so that he could negotiate best. We both got to the point where we felt we had the necessary information that we needed before the 31st and I think (Bynum) felt as if he was playing well enough to make a deal.
MT: Would waiting until the end of the season, when Bynum would have been a restricted free agent – allowing other teams to make him offers and the Lakers to match – have been a feasible option?
Kupchak: There are plusses and minuses from both viewpoints for the player and the team to doing something now vs. waiting until the summer, and both sides have to weigh that. If it’s aligned fairly, you can get a deal done.
MT: So since Andrew could have theoretically played great or poorly this season, it would have been equally risky in terms of contract numbers to wait?
Kupchak: That’s fair to say.
MT: What about Bynum’s game makes him worth a multi-year extension of this nature?
Kupchak: We know the gifts that he has. We know he’s a true center. We know what kind of person he is. We know the work ethic he has, and in fact, there isn’t a lot we don’t know since he’s been here for four years. We know the level of play he was approaching when he got hurt. The only thing we didn’t know was his ability to recover from the injury. We feel that if he continues to work hard and remains dedicated, there’s no reason he can’t continue to develop and become one of the best players in the league down the road.
MT: Finally, after advancing to the NBA Finals last season and looking better than good in this season’s first two games, what are your feelings on the roster as it currently sits?
Kupchak: I think we are comfortable with the group we have. We’ve only had training camp and two games to garner information, so more information will come in. We do like the group and at this time, but we’re looking beyond this year. We have three draft choices and are getting our scouting (all set up). You have to get into January before you know you have a real good team and that’s what most GMs do, they’re comfortable with their team and it takes six to eight weeks to learn more about it.