In a twist I don't think anybody really saw coming, the NBA announced that Andrew Bynum's five game suspension for treating J.J. Barea like an airborne tackling dummy in the finale of last year's Western Conference Semifinals has been reduced to four games. The decision is strictly logical (or so we're told), with the suspension being cut by 20% because the season was cut by the same percentage.
This is certainly a big, and unexpected, gift under the Lakers' Christmas Tree. Bynum's absence was set to take place during the Lakers' most difficult stretch of the season, at least in terms of games played. The big-man rotation of Pau Gasol, Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy were all that was available to play 5 games in 7 days, and considering that conditioning has been a major problem with the shortened preseason, one can only imagine the legs on those guys would have been mighty heavy. Now, although 4 games in 5 nights (and three back to back to back) is still a major challenge, the Lakers will spend less than a week having to adapt to a world without their potential All-Star center.
Despite the logical nature of the decision, and despite it's beneficial nature to the Lakers, I can't help but feel a little disappointed in the message being sent by the league. The nature of this decision is all business; it's like Bynum's suspension was a tax bracket that gets reduced because there is less taxable income. The problem with said analysis is that the reason for Bynum's suspension is not business related at all. He's supposed to be missing these games as a punishment because he acted recklessly and dangerously on the court. In the end, the threat of such a long suspension might do the same as requiring the full suspension itself, but what's the point of undermining your own discipline? I don't remember getting grounded for less time in the winter because daylight ended sooner.