Weekly Column: Lakers need to do away with Bynum for Paul to get title back to L.A.

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Weekly Column: Lakers need to do away with Bynum for Paul to get title back to L.A.

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Ron Rokhy

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All-Star point guard Chris Paul (right) could be what Kobe Bryant (left) and the Los Angeles Lakers need to get back to their championship form. Photo courtesy of MCT

Coming off an embarrassing playoff series where they were swept by the Mavericks, it’s quite apparent the Lakers aren’t primed to make another championship run anytime soon.

The Lakers looked sluggish and old against a team that was older than them. The Lakers scrambled defensively to stop Dallas’ onslaught of 3-pointers to no avail, and allowed backup point guard J.J. Barea to enter the paint and wreak havoc at will.

When the long-awaited end of the lockout came, so did a new CBA that harbors a certain clause, one that changes everything.

Under the new agreement, teams are allowed one amnesty cut, meaning they can cut any one player from their team like they never existed. The cut player’s salary would be completely wiped off the team’s payroll and the extra cap space could be used to sign a free agent or aid in potential trades.

The Lakers should use this clause with Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) to free up room to financially sustain the salary of arguably the best point guard in the game, Chris Paul, for the foreseeable future at the cost of giving up their young center, Andrew Bynum.

Not only would this move free up $22 million over the next three seasons ($6.8 for the upcoming one), it would get rid of an aging, psychotic player bereft of offense (8.5 points per game on 39 percent shooting) who can’t even fulfill his once-proud role of being a lockdown defender.

More importantly, it gives the Lakers the financial relief they need to pull of the much-speculated trade centered around Bynum and Paul.

Chris Paul, who’s set to make about $16.4 million this season, has not really shown interest in resigning with the Hornets when his contract expires next year, and New Orleans believes dealing him now would be the best solution as they’d get nothing if he simply walks.

Salary-wise, the Lakers can match with a package of Bynum and Steve Blake – and maybe throw in a first-round pick to sweeten the deal. To put things bluntly, the Lakers’ front office would be stupid to not pursue this offer or one similar to it.

The last couple of years have made two things quite clear: Derek Fisher can’t run the point any longer on offense or defense, and Andrew Bynum is not the dominant player the Lakers thought he would be.

Paul is a perfect fit for the Lakers. He plays top-notch perimeter defense, something the Lakers desperately need at the point guard position, feeds open players effortlessly and is capable of going for 50-plus points in a game. He’s a bonafide superstar who, coupled with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, would make a trio as deadly as Miami’s.

Every year, buzzwords like “potential” are thrown around when describing Bynum due to his young age (24), and this has kept him in general manager Mitch Kupchak’s clutches for years as trade rumors revolving around him are continually shot down. But the reality is that Bynum is an injury prone, bad-tempered player who seems to have reached his maximum growth.

And if the Hornets are buying, the Lakers better sell.

While not a bad player by any means, Bynum’s knees seem to be made of soggy cardboard. In his six-year career, he’s missed 160 games, a total of nearly two seasons. Last season, his numbers regressed as he dropped nearly four points per game and, worst of all, Bynum never shows up when the Lakers need him most: in the Finals.

Bynum didn’t play a single game in the 2007-08 Finals against the Celtics, and only played an average of 18 minutes per game against the Magic the following year. When he did get significant playing time, he only averaged 7.4 points per game in the rematch against the Celtics in 2009-10.

Los Angeles needs to stop holding on to Bynum. They already have a dominant post player in Gasol. An equally dominant point guard would send them over the edge.