x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Maturing Andrew Bynum must be kept at Los Angeles Lakers

Trading him for the older Dwight Howard is a bad deal as a once-immature player is beginning to realise he has to play to justify his talent.

Dwight Howard remains a superstar in Orlando. Andrew Bynum is still a work in progress in LA.

For a time, they seemed about to trade places, and they still could. Howard is in the last year of his contract and is trying to force the Magic to trade him, and the Lakers are one of the few teams he is willing to join.

However, as the season unfolds, the idea of the Lakers sending both Pau Gasol and Bynum to Orlando for Howard seems increasingly ludicrous. Two stars for one seems like bad maths, and this may be a minority opinion but Bynum, alone, for Howard might be a bad deal for the Lakers.

Bynum, 24, has a history of injuries and often is a pain. He is immature, owns 13 luxury cars and sometimes parks them in handi- capped-only zones. His 2011/12 season ended with a cheap shot at little Jose Barea, followed by him ripping off his shirt while storming off the court.

But he finally appears to have realised that if he wants to be treated as a star he must play like one. It should be noted that he is averaging 18.8 points and 15.7 rebounds per game, which is better than Howard's 18.6 and 14.6.

Bynum has supplanted Gasol as the Lakers' No 2 scorer, after Kobe Bryant, and the latter said: "It seems like it's changed a little bit. Andrew is thirsty to score and he can score. He has more of a scorer's mentality [than Gasol], so we'll take advantage of that."

Bynum is not the defensive force Howard is, but he is two years younger and still reaching his peak. Sounds like a guy to keep.

sports@thenational.ae