Are the Lakers Bynum’s team now?

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (L) and guard Kobe Bryant (R) sit on the bench in the final minutes of a loss to the Dallas Mavericks during Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Los Angeles, California May 4, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Roland Lazenby of HoopsHype says that with Jim Buss’ emergence in basketball operations, Andrew Bynum is the centerpiece of the Laker franchise.

Fans will discover they’re witnessing the new Lakers, the ones run by Jim Buss and built to cater in every facet to seven-footer Andrew Bynum, a nice enough 23-year-old kid with a dubious medical past and an even more suspect future.

Yes, aging star Kobe Bryant will still be a part of the equation, but he was put on notice over the summer when Jim Buss hired new coach Mike Brown without so much as a brief discussion with Bryant.

The message is clear: Brown is Bynum’s coach, and the team belongs to the young center as well.

Why did the Lakers hire Brown?

As for offense, Bynum has long made noise that he wants to be more of a priority. Brown was hired after touting his experience as an assistant coach with San Antonio’s big guns team that featured Tim Duncan on offense.

Bryant said little publicly after Brown’s hiring, but he did make it clear that he and Pau Gasol would remain the first two options in the Lakers offense.

Bynum “will have to fall in line,” Bryant has been quoted as saying.

There is trouble brewing in L.A. if the younger Buss wants to feature Bynum over Bryant and Gasol. Kobe does not look like he’s prepared to go quietly into the dark night, and the Lakers will be his team as long as he’s putting on the jersey.

But it appears that instead of trading Bynum for another piece to the championship puzzle, the Lakers are going to build around him. This would be fine if he didn’t have a long, troublesome history of injury, but he does. Can a franchise really depend on those knees?

Worst case scenario is that the Lakers hold onto Bynum and he has more knee trouble after Kobe and Gasol’s age drastically impacts their productivity. The Lakers could be in for some lean years, especially if they recommit to Bynum after his contract expires. But the Lakers are one of the league’s two marquee franchises (along with the Knicks), so it shouldn’t be too difficult to reload, assuming the new salary cap rules allow it.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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