Andrew Bynum dismisses trade talk
BOSTON -- The basketball world might have been set aflame overnight considering a scenario where the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers would acquire four-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets for center Andrew Bynum, but you wouldn't know it from looking in on Lakers practice Wednesday.
"If he can't deal with that, forget about a Game 7," Bryant said of the trade talk that was first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on Tuesday. "I don't need to talk to him about that. He's a big boy, he can handle himself."
Coach Phil Jackson barely batted an eyelash as he was approached by a throng of media that included reporters from national news outlets.
"I haven't given it a second thought," Jackson said. "I haven't really entertained it."
If Jackson hasn't given it a second thought, then what was his first thought about the Lakers moving their 7-foot, 285-pound big man to pick up a wing player in Anthony?
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"My first thought was, 'Why are these people interrupting my life with these kind of rumors?' " Jackson said.
Bynum said his agent, David Lee, called him at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday to tell him about the report. It was a familiar refrain for Bynum, whose name has popped up in rumors linked to a laundry list of players -- Jason Kidd, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Chris Paul and Pau Gasol among them -- in his six-year career.
"It's just another rumor as far as I'm concerned," a nonchalant Bynum said Wednesday. "I was caught up in [Chris] Bosh and Pau [trade speculation], so it's nothing new to me. I'm just going to keep playing basketball.
"It's not really in my power. I can't control it, so I can't allow myself to focus on things that are kind of out of my domain. I can't do anything. All I can do is come in here and play basketball for the team."
Bynum said that he has not been in contact with anyone within the Lakers organization about the possibility of being traded.
"I think they would [contact me] if it was more than a rumor," Bynum said. "No one's really said anything."
Another trade the Lakers looked into, according to ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher, involved sending forward Ron Artest to Charlotte for either Gerald Wallace or Stephen Jackson. Artest, who ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported had been privately pining for a trade, was not fazed when he heard this.
"Regardless, the NBA is going to be a great association," Artest told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "There's 400-something players in the NBA, 30 teams, and every team, every organization, is great. Everybody is like one big team, one big happy family. Everybody is getting paid."
Artest last week denied wanting a trade, but in light of the latest report, was asked if he wanted to remain on the Lakers beyond the league's Feb. 24 trade deadline.
"I don't know," Artest told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I don't know what to say. I don't know what you mean."
When the reporter restated the query, asking if Artest wanted to be on the Lakers when the playoffs start and the team sets out to defend its title, he replied, "I don't understand the question," before walking away.
Bryant was nonplussed by the day's developments, sitting on the sideline receiving electro stimulation treatment on his left ankle while holding court with reporters.
"It's only a distraction if you listen to it," Bryant said. "You guys take the liberty of assuming that we actually read what you guys write. So it's not a distraction if you don't read it. ... They're rumors. I don't really deal with the unknowns. We might as well as talk about UFOs too."
Feeding the trade frenzy was the fact that the Lakers are 18-9 this season with Bynum in the lineup and 18-7 without him. The team, however, sounded off on the benefits of having Bynum on the court.
"Our biggest strength is our size," Bryant said.
Added Bynum: "I think when I'm not out there playing, we don't have guys getting enough rest. There's not enough rotation. We lose another way to attack a team."
Gasol stressed the importance of the team holding on to his frontcourt mate as well.
"I think size is really important, especially in the playoffs," Gasol said. "I'm a big fan of having Andrew on board because I think size is so crucial -- rebounding is so crucial. In the playoffs, you need big bodies. You need big bodies on your team to be able to go through it and be successful."
Jackson, who said he is not always consulted in the trade process by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president Jim Buss anyway, declared his confidence in his team as it's currently constructed.
"I still think when they're playing their best, they're the best team in the league," Jackson said.
However, the coach offered one scenario where he would sign off on acquiring Anthony.
"I told Derrick Caracter that if Denver gave us Anthony straight up, then we would trade Derrick Caracter for Anthony," Jackson said, smiling as he talked about the Lakers' seldom-used second-round draft pick. "That's the only trade I want on this basketball club, if that's one that works out."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.