By Jason Wojciechowski on July 3, 2008 at 5:12 AM
Contradicting earlier language by Bynum that he didn't want the max contract, that something less would still make him happy, the Orange County Register reports that Bynum will be asking for the max (5 years, $80 million) in contract extension talks with the Lakers. Now, "asking" for the max is a whole different thing from, say, "demanding" the max. Obviously, when the league sets a max contract, that's a cap on the negotiation, and when you're a player of Bynum's caliber, you may as well start the negotiations at that point and work down from there until you reach a point the two sides can agree on. (This is obviously why the league sets a max contract in the first place.) Might Bynum be able to hold off signing an extension and extract the max from L.A.? It's possible. The media would certainly be all over the Lakers for not locking up the guy who brings what everyone thinks they need: "toughness" inside. So that's Bynum's bargaining chip. Well, that and he's set to be at worst the fourth-best center in the league (Dwight Howard, Greg Oden, Yao Ming) for the next ten years or so. On the Lakers side, they've got the fact that he's had exactly half of one good year, it's not clear how he'll play with Pau Gasol, and his future is generally not a sure thing in the least.
I think he'll eventually settle for less than the max, but not substantially less. Maybe $65-70 million over five years?