Trade rumors continue to swirl around Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, with the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly among the four teams on the All-Star center's wish list. Laker center Andrew Bynum, arguably the second-best center in the NBA, has long been linked to Howard in a theoretical deal.
With the two slated to play in Orlando this Friday, the natural inclination will be to compare the big men. But don't ask Bynum to add his two cents.
"I don't make any comparisons," insisted Bynum at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo on Tuesday. "The guy is definitely more proven ... so for myself, I always look up to him and want to be able to get the ball and do the things he does with it. I think I learn a lot from watching him play, the way he rim-runs, and gets low and things like that. It's a fun game."
Not to mention a challenging one.
"It's tough," admitted Bynum. "You don't want to get embarrassed, so you have to bring your A-game."
The Lakers will collectively need to bring their A-game to Florida for consecutive games against the Miami Heat and the Magic beginning Thursday. The Heat, featuring the "Big Three" of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and (if available from various leg injuries) Dwyane Wade, were the a preseason favorite to win the 2012 championship. The Magic are currently sitting atop the Southeast division. And in the meantime, the Lakers are just 1-4 on the road.
"They're definitely good measuring tools for us," said Bynum. "We can definitely see where we're at. Hopefully, we can get two wins ... We need to get at least one."
"It's been one of those tough back-to-backs that I think multiple teams have faced throughout the years," added Lakers guard Derek Fisher. "It's similar to, over the years, you have a Dallas-San Antonio back-to-back. You have to play those back-to-backs within regions. They're just tough. They're two of the better teams, not just in the Eastern Conference, but in the NBA as a whole. And when you combine that with our struggles on the road, it presents two good tests for us."
Lakers head coach Mike Brown, however, isn't using the pair of games as an outlier.
"I don't know. No matter who we play, I'm always gonna try to use that game to determine where we are. So, yeah, we're playing Miami and then Orlando, but we played Dallas (Monday), but because we beat them that doesn't mean we're the best team in the West or anything. I think we did some good things and it shows we have a chance to be real good because we were able to execute and do some things positively against the NBA champions. But we still have a ways to go," Brown said.
Other matters Brown isn't assigning too much weight include his first game against James since coaching the two-time league MVP from 2005-10.
"I haven't really thought of it," responded Brown when asked what he thought the experience would be like. "Obviously, it will be good to see him, but right now, I know I don't have any emotions, so I don't know."
Andy Kamenetzky is the co-author of the Land O'Lakers blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com.