Bynum Interested in Being Team USA Center of the Future
But the Los Angeles Lakers' Andrew Bynum, who has a shot to be this decade's second-best center after Orlando's Dwight Howard, would like to help. Bynum turned down an invitation to be with USA Basketball in preparation for this summer's World Championships in Turkey because of injuries. He said he wants to be with Team USA in the future.
"I definitely do some day,'' Bynum said in an interview Friday with FanHouse. "If my body feels good and I don't have any serious injuries, yeah.''
Bynum realizes he might not be a candidate for the 2012 Olympics because he turned down a three-summer commitment in February. But he said "probably the next round'' of selections he would be interested, which could put Bynum in line for the 2014 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics.
Considering Bynum, 22, would be just 28 during the 2016 Olympics, it's not unrealistic to look at him as Team USA's center of the future. Who knows if Howard, 30 in 2016, would want to come back then for a possible third Olympics?
The 7-foot Bynum was invited to be part of the Team USA three-summer roster that was unveiled in February with 27 names and since has grown to 32. But USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Bynum bowed out at the "last minute.'' With Howard being 6-foot-11, that leaves Team USA's roster as having only one 7-footer in New Jersey's Brook Lopez.
"I am at the stage of my career where I had a lot of injuries going on,'' Bynum, with the Lakers preparing for Saturday's Game 4 of a West first-round series against Oklahoma City, said of turning down USA Basketball's invitation. "I wanted to be able to work out in a controlled environment.. Two knees [that have been hurt] and this Achilles stuff I'm going to have to rest after the playoffs.''
Bynum was lost for the season with a left knee injury midway through the 2007-08 campaign and he suffered a right knee injury that cost him much of last season. Bynum recently missed the final month of the regular season due to a left Achilles strain, but that injury actually happened after he had decided not to join Team USA for this run.
Bynum returned to start the postseason. He's averaging 10.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in three games.
"I'm feeling OK,'' Bynum said. "Just a little pain here and there. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing.''
Bynum, who averaged 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds during the regular season, had 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in Game 1. He's averaged just 9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.0 block over the past two games, but Lakers guard Kobe Bryant isn't alarmed.
"He looks good,'' Bryant said. "He's moving real well.''
Bryant is expected to represent Team USA in Turkey while Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who also is on the roster, is hopeful but no guarantee to make the final cut. And it's all but certain Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who led Spain to the gold medal at the 2006 World Championships, won't help his homeland defend its title.
"More likely, yes,'' Gasol said Friday when asked if he's definitely not going to Turkey.
As for the 2014 World Championships, the 7-foot Gasol, who then will be 34, might be more interested since they will be in Spain. He then could find himself battling Bynum.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@christomasson