This development came to light when Lakers' executive Jim Buss told 710 ESPN Radio's "Mason & Ireland Show" on Thursday that the team's most candid and often controversial player was a potential franchise player.
"I think it's pretty obvious how I feel about Andrew Bynum," he said. "He's an incredible All-Star Center and you can build a future around him."
Buss went on to remark that the maturity issues that plagued the 24-year-old throughout this season and his career were not a major concern:
"I keep referring to Phil [Jackson]. Phil said, 'Let the kid grow up.' He's still young at heart. I don't know what else to say about him."
While fans who've grown tired of the antics of Bynum are likely upset hearing those words come from the Lakers' most influential decision-maker, the thought process of Buss makes sense. Bynum is the second-best center in the league, and when healthy, he's made a case for being the most valuable player to his team.
That may be hard to swallow for the staunchest supporters of Kobe Bryant, but as the Black Mamba ages, someone will have to take the torch from him. Given the Lakers' lack of options via trade or free-agency due to salary cap restrictions and high-priced stars, Bynum may have to be the answer whether anyone likes it or not.
But things could be a lot worse in Los Angeles. Many teams would love the 'problem' of having a young center in the prime of his career who has a propensity to act his age at times. Though his health is always a concern, so too is the health of any big man, including Dwight Howard. Buss has been behind Bynum and is widely regarded as an individual in the Lakers' front office who was instrumental in drafting him out of high school.
The bottom line is that the Lakers may be stuck with Bynum, whether the fans like it or not. In fact, the team seems fully prepared to build around him moving forward. If that's the case, then everyone in the organization needs to embrace that fact and learn how to motivate him to be at his best for the duration of an entire season.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He has written for southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. You can catch him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.