Kupchak backs Bynum despite transgressions

Kupchak backs Bynum despite transgressions

Published Apr. 3, 2012 5:04 p.m. ET

The Lakers continue to include center Andrew Bynum in their future plans despite acknowledging displeasure with some of his recent on-court transgressions.

"Sometimes with young players I get disappointed and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday in an interview with The Times. "Andrew continues to have a mix of good moments and maybe not-so-good moments. But he's very bright, a really intelligent kid."

Kupchak said he "absolutely" envisioned Bynum with the Lakers down the road.

"Despite some of the events of the last week or two, nothing has changed about our forward approach with Andrew," Kupchak said.

Kupchak told The Times last month that the Lakers plan to exercise the $16.1-million option they hold on Bynum's contract next season. They have until June 30 to do so.

After next season, however, Bynum becomes a free agent unless the Lakers sign him to an extension. Negotiations have not begun, though there is not a pressing deadline.

"He's the starting center on the West All-Star team. Why wouldn't we do everything we could to keep him here?" Kupchak told The Times last month. "We're ecstatic to have him on the team."

As The Times reported Sunday, Bynum was fined an undisclosed sum for events last week surrounding the Golden State game.

He was benched by Coach Mike Brown in that game for taking an ill-advised three-point attempt and said afterward he wouldn't hesitate to keep taking them.

After last Saturday's narrow victory over New Orleans, Bynum said he didn’t take part in team huddles during time-outs because he was resting and "getting my Zen on."

Kupchak met face-to-face with Bynum last week but did not specify what they discussed.

"I'm just going to decline to rehash stuff that happened," Kupchak said. "Our position is we dealt with it internally."

Bynum, 24, is in his seventh NBA season. He was an All-Star for the first time and was averaging career-highs across the board before spraining his left ankle Sunday in a more recent game against Golden State.

Brown said Bynum would be a game-time decision Tuesday against New Jersey, but a more important date for his return would be Wednesday against the Clippers.

The Lakers and Clippers have split two games this season, and Wednesday is the last time they play each other in the regular season.

The head-to-head tiebreaker is at stake Wednesday, in case the teams tie in the standings. The Clippers are also trying to win the season series against the Lakers for the first time since 1992-93.

Bynum was averaging 18.3 points and 12.1 rebounds before leaving Sunday's game in the first quarter after an awkward landing on his ankle.

--Mike Bresnahan