Andrew Bynum fishes in Alaska while Lakers hope to catch Jamison
As a trade cloud swirled around him yet again, Andrew Bynum was in the largest, least densely populated state in the U.S.
He was relaxing on a week-long fishing trip in Alaska with his agent, even pulling some halibut out of the ocean Tuesday as the Lakers re-engaged in trade talks with the Orlando Magic for unhappy center Dwight Howard. Bynum would be the centerpiece of a deal involving Orlando, though nothing was imminent Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were trying to hook free-agent forward Antawn Jamison, who would immediately help boost scoring among their punchless reserves. The Lakers acquired Steve Nash, but they still need to improve their bench.
After allocating about $27 million over the next three years to Nash in a trade with Phoenix last week, the Lakers are increasingly reluctant to use the “mini” mid-level exception, their only free-agent tool. It tops out at $3.1 million next season, but the Lakers are hoping to sign free agents to fill out their bench by using only the veteran’s-minimum contract, which tops out at $1.35 million next season.
Jamison, 36, averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds last season with Cleveland, though he shot a career-low 40.3%. He has received a handful of more lucrative offers from teams, but none have the playoff potential of the Lakers.
He is expected to make up his mind soon. The Lakers could use his scoring touch after finishing among the lowest in the league in bench production.
As of now, their reserves under contract are Steve Blake, Josh McRoberts, Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Christian Eyenga. They averaged only 18.8 points combined last season, not including Eyenga’s eight-point effort in his only Lakers game.
The Lakers are still negotiating with reserve power forward Jordan Hill, an unrestricted free agent who averaged 4.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 12 playoff games with them last season. He has drawn interest from a smattering of teams, and the Lakers want him back, but only for the right price.
They do not have to use the “mini” mid-level on Hill because they hold some “Bird” rights with him, but they are not willing to go too far over the $3.6 million he would have made with Houston next season had the Rockets not declined to pick up their option on Hill before trading him to the Lakers a few months later.
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