NBA Free Agency 2012: Andrew Bynum Flexes His Free Agent Muscle, Likely Costs Lakers Dwight Howard

April 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers trainer Gary Vitti talks to Andrew Bynum (17) on the court in the first quarter of the game against the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center. Bynum suffered an ankle sprain and did not return to the game. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

As the saga of Dwight Howard rages on, it's becoming increasingly likely that his destination will be Howard's preferred choice of Brooklyn. The outcome is not all that unexpected ... when a superstar says "I want to play for _____" he usually ends up doing so. That's the power of the modern day NBA superstar, a power that has been well documented. However, the primary reason Howard seems set to land in New York next season surprisingly might not have much to do with Dwight Howard.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski, without a doubt the best information man in the business:

Despite Orlando’s desire to make Lakers center Andrew Bynum the centerpiece of a trade package, a significant stumbling block remains in Bynum’s reluctance to commit to a long-term contract if he's traded to the Magic, sources said. Orlando doesn’t want to face the possibility of trading for Bynum only to lose him to free agency after the upcoming season.

That, ladies and gents, is Andrew Bynum flexing his own burgeoning superstar power.

There are plenty of reasons to be angry with Andrew Bynum, but this really isn't one of them. After all, it's a bit hypocritical to be angry with Bynum for utilizing his star power to block a move when it is that very phenomenon that makes the move possible. If stars didn't have the power to dictate where they will and will not play, Howard would be signing a very long contract to play in Orlando right now. Its dirty business on the part of the players, but that dirty business has been made possible by a labor environment in which the players are not free to be paid as much as they are worth relative to their peers. Dwight Howard is a "max" player no matter who he plays for, so he can choose to play for whoever he wishes. Andrew Bynum, though significantly less valuable than Dwight, fits within the same criteria. So if he says "I won't stay in Orlando to be part of a terrible team" (and Orlando is going to be hideously terrible when this is all said and done), there's nothing anybody can do to stop him.

Ironically, these developments also put the Lakers on notice. If Bynum is unwilling to sign a long term contract in Orlando, we can't be positive he'll be willing to sign a long term contract in Los Angeles. After all, the long term prospects of the Lakers are only better than Orlando based on a history of quick rebounding. This, too, has already been documented. The Lakers have 2-3 seasons of potential, in descending order, with which to take advantage of their tremendous talent, and then they will be in a similar situation to Orlando. Obviously, the Lakers will have a much stronger hand to play in forcing the free agent coups of 2015, but there are no guarantees in that world, and a worst case scenario has the Lakers in just as much of a rebuilding mode as anybody else. Does Andrew Bynum want to be the centerpiece of that effort? Nobody knows. In that same Woj article, it was indicated that Bynum is open to a long term contract with the Lakers. But if that contract doesn't get signed until next season, and it becomes obvious that the addition of Nash wasn't quite enough to put the Lakers over the top, who knows what could happen.

The next victim of the modern day NBA superstar ... might be the Los Angeles Lakers.

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