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Bynum Ready to Go After Signing a Two-Year Deal

Times Staff Writer

The Lakers signed center Andrew Bynum to a two-year contract Wednesday worth about $3.8 million, with team options for another two years that would keep him with the Lakers through at least the 2008-09 season.

Bynum, the youngest player drafted in league history, will play in the team’s summer league opener Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

“It’s important for a 17-year-old kid to begin playing as soon as possible, in particular with the offense that we run here,” Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “He hadn’t played much his senior year -- he hadn’t played a lot of basketball in general -- so it’s safe to say we’re pleased that he’s signed and available for practice.”

Bynum, who played for St. Joseph High in Metuchen, N.J., sat out his first 10 games as a senior because of a knee injury and his first 10 games as a junior after transferring from New Hope (Pa.) Solebury Prep and sitting out because of state transfer rules.

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Bynum, who will be 18 in October, was selected No. 10 overall in the June 28 draft.

Kupchak said Bynum was eager to begin playing after signing the contract.

“As soon as he signed it, he stood up and said, ‘Can I practice now?’ ” Kupchak said. “Most guys want to smile and enjoy the moment. He was eager to practice.”

Bynum’s contract will have more clearly defined financial numbers after the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified by the owners and the players’ union this month.

Under terms of the new agreement, first-round draft picks receive two guaranteed years, plus two one-year team options. After four seasons, an unsigned player becomes an unrestricted free agent.

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Bynum will be joined by second-round picks Ronny Turiaf, a 6-foot-10 forward from Gonzaga, and Von Wafer, a 6-5 guard from Florida State, on the Laker summer league team. Sasha Vujacic and Tony Bobbitt, Laker rookies last season, will also be on the team.


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