By Craig Kwasniewski
Trade rumors take on many different forms during a long 82-game regular season. Some are very real and just the right phone call from happening, some are created by the local media seeking that watercooler buzz on a slow news day and others are motivational ploys intended to light a fire under a player with very little motivation.
Hmmm, now that sounds a little too familiar.
That Andrew Byunum for Chris Bosh trade was just that, a leak by the Lakers front office with the sole message: Pick up your game or we're shipping your ass to Toronto!
Andrew Bynum is signed under a very healthy contract through 2012-13 and is the favored son of Jim Buss (Jerry's successor). Pau Gasol goes down, Artest bangs his head, Kobe... well Kobe goes through his annual list of minor injuries (broken finger, back spasms, etc.) and Odom is Odom. All eyes are on Drew, who's expected to rise up and carry the Lakers through the injuries. Instead of busting out All-Star numbers, Bynum continues his very Benoit Benjamin disappearing act. Two plays on, several minutes off, complaints that he's not getting enough touches... we've seen this before with every un-motivated big in the NBA.
The Lakers simply got fed up with this act and played the only hand they could... the trade rumor. What Bynum didn't expect was the excitement Lakers fans had and the fear generated in the rest of the NBA at the prospect of a very versatile Gasol-Odom-Bosh front line.
Drew responded averaging 20.7 points and 12.3 rebounds, way above his regular season numbers of 15.6 points and 8.5 rebounds as the Lakers went 2-1. Safe to say, Drew got the message.
BTW - Bynum's not getting traded for Chris Bosh! Besides being a motivational ploy, let's look at it further. Bynum *IS* Jim Buss's guy. Do not underestimate the power of that situation! Many teams came through with interesting offers for Bynum and the Lakers turned down all of them. Jim is slated to take over Jerry Buss's spot on the team and Bynum is his long-term cornerstone. Plus roster-wise Bosh doesn't fit. Gasol is a 4 who can play the 5 and Bosh is a 4 only. The Lakers, who's advantage is being long and big, find themselves getting a little smaller with Bosh. It was never happening.