Could an All-World center be heading from Disney World to Disneyland for the second time in 16 years?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Magic management is intrigued by Lakers center Andrew Bynum as the potential centerpiece of a deal that would send Dwight Howard to L.A. On the flip side, Jarrod N. Rudolph of RealGM reports that Lakers management is prepared to offer both Bynum and Metta World Peace in a deal for Howard, under the condition that Howard agrees to sign a contract extension.
Since agreeing to waive his player option for the 2012-13 season in a showing of loyalty to the Magic, Howard has pulled a complete 180, demanding to be traded. Magic GM Rob Hennigan confirmed Howard's trade demand, adding that the center said he would only sign an extension with the Brooklyn Nets; Howard would have to come back on the latter demand in order for the deal to happen.
Earlier today, reports emerged suggesting that despite the likely acquisition of Joe Johnson, the Nets were back in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. However, a package centered around Brook Lopez would be less attractive than one centered around Bynum.
Like Howard, Bynum's contract runs out at the conclusion the 2012-13 season; the final year of his deal is a $16.5 million team option that was picked up by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak.
Howard averaged 20.6 points and a career-best 14.5 rebounds in 54 games for the Magic during the 2011-12 season. Despite missing the end of the regular season and the entire postseason with a back injury, Howard was named to the All-NBA 1st team for the fifth straight year, and the All-NBA Defensive 1st team for the fourth straight season.
Bynum, 24, is coming off a breakout year. He averaged career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8) on the way to his first All-Star appearance, and first appearance on the All-NBA 2nd team.
Should the deal happen, it will mark the second time Kobe Bryant is teamed with the league's best center, similar to when Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando for the west coast during the 1996 free agency period. The marriage between Bryant and O'Neal produced three NBA titles from 2000-02, but ended ugly, with the Lakers dealing O'Neal to the Miami Heat during the 2004 offseason.