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NBA Rumors: Andrew Bynum to Leave Lakers for Mavericks, Rockets or Cavaliers?

Andrew Bynum's summer has been very interesting thus far.

Despite the fact that he’s coming off his best, healthiest and most consistent season as a pro, Bynum’s has frequently been mentioned as a key component in any and all possible Dwight Howard trades. The legitimacy and realism of these proposed trades varies, but Bynum’s role in them does not.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Los Angeles Lakers clearly want Howard over Bynum  – and that unfortunately presents two pretty obvious problems. One, it shows just how much they doubt that Bynum’s 2012 campaign is something that he can repeat regularly for the next decade. Two, it can’t be good for Bynum’s psyche.

That second problem is particularly huge because, at the moment, all signs point to the fact that the Lakers won’t be able to net Howard. Mitch Kupchak and Co. have been working hard to appease the Orlando Magic all summer – if a deal was going to happen, it would have happened.

Clearly Orlando brass simply isn’t satisfied with the Lakers’ package.

Complicating matters even further is that Bynum will have the option of ditching L.A. next summer when he becomes a free agent. Kevin Ding tackled this in his latest column for the OC Register:

Is Bynum so annoyed by Lakers officials – with whom he has not often connected – dangling him again this offseason in Howard talks that Bynum would turn down more money, more years and more spotlight a year from now and leave the Lakers with nothing in refusing to re-sign with them?

Maybe so.

And that very real downside threat is a serious angle to the Lakers’ understandable but oh-so-slow dance with Howard.

For all the speculation about whether Howard would re-sign with the Lakers next summer if he comes here, it’s a far less sure thing that Bynum would re-sign with the Lakers next summer if he remains here.

A few months back, rumors began to circulate that Bynum had a short list of non-Lakers teams he wouldn’t be opposed to joining. His agent came out and quickly swatted down that short list, but it’s hard to imagine that someone just made it up.

The teams on that list were: the Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets.

Would Bynum really leave behind the glitz and glamour that comes standard with Tinseltown to play in Dallas, Cleveland or Houston, just because his feelings are hurt? Maybe. You’ll recall, he once famously said this in regards to being traded for Howard:

“It doesn’t matter to me; I don’t read the headlines,” Bynum said (via Orlando Sentinel) “There’s a bank in every city, and I’m going to play hard basketball wherever I go, so I’m good.

“I really don’t care about it, man. You’ve just got to play basketball, just have fun. A lot of people lose that … it’s a business and this and that. You’re playing a game, and it’s something you’ve been doing since you were a kid. If you just get back to that and just play, nothing matters.”

Of course, in the spirit of that there’s-a-bank-in-every-city attitude, it’s worth noting that the Lakers would be able to offer Bynum more money than any other team. Additional dough has a magical way of washing away past sins.

So, will Bynum ultimately opt for greener pastures when he’s free to do so? Probably not. But stranger things have happened.

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