Extend, Trade, or Cut – Young Centers Edition

by Micah Hart

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to start the week off right with a little hoops arguing. Today’s episode of extend, trade, or cut is brought to you by the Prime Minister (familiar to anyone who reads the Hang Time Blog) who had a good suggestion for today’s discussion — a trio of the NBA’s best young pivotmen in the Hawks’ Al Horford, the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, and Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol.

Just to refresh you on the rules, picture yourself as the GM of a mythical NBA franchise, and pretend that you have to choose between three players. One player you can extend with a new contract, one player you can trade for some mythical asset(s), and one player you must cut from your roster for eternity (it’s a harsh world). You may choose each option only once.

Let’s take a look at the candidates:

Al Horford: I’m not saying which way I will vote on Big Al, but I must admit upfront a healthy bias towards him from my days covering the Hawks. Here is a comment you often hear about the Hawks: “They’d be good if they had a legit center instead of having to play Horford there rather than his natural power forward position.” This statement is a crock o’ something. Here’s a little stat I just made up — Horford is better than 90 percent of the centers in the league. I’d actually have to do some research to decide exactly where he fits in, but just because he struggles to check Dwight Howard and Yao Ming doesn’t mean he’s out of his depth in the post. You know who else has trouble checking Dwight and Yao? Everyone.

Andrew Bynum: The Lakers big man is brimming with talent, and when he’s been healthy he’s established that he is capable of being a perennial All-Star. Alas, that health just hasn’t been a constant. In fact, being injured has been the constant, as he has only played 82 games once in his five-year career. Still, Bynum is only 22 (he turns 23 next week), and if the injuries get under control, he could be the best center in the league.

Marc Gasol: Is he as good as his brother Pau? Maybe not. But for as much grief as the Grizzlies get for trading Gasol the Elder to L.A. (and believe me, I’m with you), I don’t know if they get enough credit for getting Gasol the Younger in return. Marc is pretty much exactly what you want in an NBA center – he rebounds, he protects the rim, and he has the traditional Euro-style abilities to be a good passer and solid face-up shooter. If anything, I still wonder why Memphis (with Gasol in the fold) would draft Hasheem Thabeet instead of homegrown hero Tyreke Evans.

Them’s your choices. Now it’s your turn to weigh in – what’s your poison?

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  1. David says:

    Could not agree with you more on all your comments about each player. i feel bad for horford as he will not have a chance to advance very far in the playoffs with howard, dwayne wade, chris soft, & lequeen being there now. as for gasol i hope he comes to la when his contract is up. tryeke evans could be the next superstar in the league and the kings have a good chance to do what the thunder did last year either this year or the next depending on how d-couzins comes along. as for bynum im surprised to see someone think the same as me because being a laker fan & knowning plenty of them none of them share the same view on him as me. when he got drafted i was like he is the next great big man.

  2. george Vendeiwh says:

    Marc Gasol acabara en algun equipo de la zona noble de la Nba,tiene fundamentos,etica,pundonor,caracter y ambicion.Media liga esta a la espera de lo que ocurra

  3. Nick says:

    Extend Gasol, Trade Horford, Cut Bynum. Why ? Gasol is a true center (7ft1), unlike Horford. He’s better at shot blocking and enters his 3rd NBA season, which is said to be usually the breakout season. What’s more, he doesn’t require as big salary as Horford. Bynum’s health isn’t sth a GM would like to deal with, unless you have Pau Gasol and a certain Lamar Odom as a back-up 4. And due to Bynum’s health problems, it would be easier to trade Horford than him. And that’s why you cut Bynum cuz you don’t want to pay money to a guy who’s injured most of the time. Cheers!

  4. WG says:

    Bad poll, I would extend all three

  5. school says:

    haha, people can’t read so they had to change the format of the voting. good job

  6. rondo says:

    None of the above. I won’t cut,trade any of them.

  7. rondo says:

    This article make no sense. The season has not started yet, all 3 are great players teams don’t cut 7ft. players. who can play well.

    • Josh Smith says:

      have you ever seen one of these articles before? they write these all the time. If you could have all 3, who would you trade, cut, and extend.

  8. Brian says:

    Why would you extend Bynum??? He is too injury prone and in my opinion overrated. He has his moments but has not played up to the hype that he has been given. Al Horford has been great when given the playing time and Marc Gasol is proving that Pau isn’t the only Gasol that needs to be thought about. Bynum needs to live up to the expectations before he gets extended, right now give the spot back to Odom and cut Bynum

  9. Ian says:

    This three representative is good as Center, but I would rather pick Extend Baynum, Trade Gasol and Cut Horford. Baynum is reallt strong Forward in Lakers, so why would you cut him ot trade… He may become the best Center in NBA.

  10. think says:

    CUT: BYNUM… I’m sorry but he’s just too injury prone… and still have to prove himself to be in a Kobe-less, Pau-less, Odom-less team.I mean if the hype of him being kept in LA is be the best big thing after Kobe (and Shaq), then i guess we’ll be in for a disappointment. Bynum clearly makes LA a more dangerous team, but if you think you have Horford or Marc intead, it would make no difference.

    TRADE: HORFORD… Might be a crazy idea, but Horford has the most value to be traded for an elite player, or two high-quality role-players (in case you might need them for a finals run), or high draft-picks (if you plan on rebuilding). but he himself wouldnt be able to handle a team on his own.

    EXTEND: GASOL… A real hard-worker that isnt afraid to get hurt (or hurt someone lol), that’s what you need as a center if you already have a franchise player (or two) and quality role players in a team… a possibility of going deep in the playoffs isnt far. And compared with the first two, I’d say you can get this talent at a cheaper prize.

  11. KINGKOBE says:

    How can the LAKERS cut Bynum when he is under contract num nut!! And next to Dwight Howard, Bynum is the next best big man in the league!

  12. BBaller20 says:

    Bynum is way to injury prone and wouldn’t last without a superstar team on his own…

  13. Greg says:

    Extend Horford, trade Gasol, cut Bynum.

    Bynum just isn’t as good as the two other, even when he’s injury free. Tough decision between the 2 others, Horford has probably a brighter future.

  14. BILL MCBLAZE says:

    EXTEND GASOL, TRADE HORFORD, CUT BYNUM, if only he didnt get injured frequently

  15. Brydon says:

    A lot of people are missing the point haha. The whole point of this article is the decision you would make if you HAD to cut, trade, and extend. If you were allowed to extend all of them then this article wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? 😛

    Also, this one was flippin’ tough! Results are so even too!

  16. Daniel Toma says:

    Wow some people really don’t get the idea of the game do they. It is hypothetical it doesn’t matter that he is under contract!!

  17. numbnutZ says:

    yao ming is the next best big man in the league after dwight, not bynum.


    keep BYNUM year to year contract if he will agree to it , do to past injury he might accept that for a season or 2 , then trade HORFORD, he gets fired up and will work well on teams like, the SUNs, WARRIORS, maybe a back up for KAMEN on the CLIPPERS. or if he would take a little less money, and if the hawks wanted to dump him the HEAT would finally get the missing piece to be DOMINATE as BOSH can only do so much and if he gets in foul trouble who do they really have haha.
    GASOL sorry you get cut buddy, but he you can get picked up by the PISTONS or INDIANA possible DALLAS to help DIRK as a big 2 combo, but i would have to cut him if i had control of the other 2 gus for sure.

    but no NOAH on this list ???? he’s still young right

  19. jared says:

    I wouldn’t cut any of them because there are no good bigs in this league. When you find a decent one you gotta stick with him because like I just said there is just barely any good big guys anymore and big guys lead to wins.

  20. Easy Question says:

    I am a laker fan yet I would cut Bynum. I would Extend Marc Gasol because he is the true center and his contract is cheap! I would gladly trade Al Horford and his big salary.

  21. rJ says:

    The only thing i dont agree wit you on is horford being better at the 4
    i think if he played that, either trade josh smith or hv him play the three
    (afterwards, slap urself in the head for drafting williams – just terrible)
    and pick up a legit centre
    they’d b a force (not being able to guard Yao and Dwight, especially with horfords size, is a BIG PROBLEM – its not just something to deal with, bcuz thats who they face in the playoffs and get dominated by – at least the last 2 plyoffs if im not mistaken)

    and everyone doesnt hv trouble with Yao and dwight – shaq can do a lil bit wit both (though he doesn’t know the word defense very well) – kendrick perkins can guard – bogut has shown hes OK – and look at Yao’s head-to-head with Howard (domination)

    the Hawks r just in a real bad position wit Bibby as defensively capable as Steve Nash (and no where near the offensive ability), a 124$mill contract to a second rate all star who hasnt carried them anywhere, williams whose not so much a bust but would hv been a solid lottery to second half of the first round pick in a draft, josh smith whose a horse (nothin real bad to say), and a 4 playin the 5 lol – Horford makes up for in wit his athelicism and offensive mismatch, but like I said when it comes to guardin the big dogs, he’s as useful as bynum in street clothes

    Trade Horford – he’d bring in some serious assets
    Extend Gasol – he’s a beast when helathy
    Cut Bynum – bcuz it’s like my poor Houston Rockets puttin faith in Yao when he can’t stay heathy (i still love Yao but i’d love him even more if he was healthy lol)

  22. matt says:

    First of all, what’s with all these bandwagon lakers fans always insisting on typing LAKERS in all caps? Starting to get really annoying. Second, this poll is strictly theoretical. It has nothing to do with existing contracts, etc. It’s just to get your brain thinking about which player is the most/least valuable of the 3 at their given position. Extend Gasol, trade Horford, cut Bynum.

  23. notnilc20 says:

    Extend Gasol for sure….he’s a hard worker and plays all season long at 100%. He’s gotten so much better every season.

    Trade Bynum…..maybe some other team would give up some good talent for a guy who hardly plays in any games.

    Cut Horford…..well that was the rules of the poll…..good player though.

  24. D-Will says:

    Cut : Marc Gasol
    Extend : Al Horford
    Trade : Andrew Bynum

    Hey , never mind what haters say ignore ’em ’til they fade away – T.I.

    – L.A. Lakers for life baby !

  25. imher says:

    xtend al, he’s tested…
    if you’re gm and you’re gonna start now, it would be best to choose the best, tested and available RIGHT NOW…
    cut bynum, injury prone…
    best example of investing to a potential that will never happen (check oden’s case)…
    and trade gasol, lots of potential but will go a long way to prove himself
    a good trade bait… coudl at least be traded with a good pg or a defender…

  26. iamshannonbrown says:

    When Andrew Bynum is 100% healthy, i am serious people, i think that he is better than Dwight Howard. And i think that an injury free Yao Ming is THE best center in the league. Sad that all the quality bigmen is so injury haunted…

  27. trev says:

    trade horford to memphis for gasol, that works for both teams and extend bynum, injuries or not he gave boston fits the 12 minutes a game he played in the finals. he will do the same to anyone who comes out the east this season

  28. steve says:

    people who are complaining about “o i wouldn’t get rid of any of them,” this is theoretical. If you were a GM and you had to make these moves, which would you choose. Do people get it now

  29. bakes says:

    EXTENDED Gasol
    TRADED Horford
    CUT Bynum!!!! I’m a Lakers fan and I would have cut him long time ago.

  30. DUMBDUMBDUMB says:

    Trade Or cut Bynum??? What a dumb article. The One year Bynum is out is the year The Lakers got manhandled….an injured Bynum help the Lakers win 2 straight title. I could care less about Hortford and Marc…its a lose lose for the Hawks and Grizz weather u keep them or not. Again….Dumb Article, and thats probably why yall aint Gm’s

  31. Baker says:

    Andrew Bynum could be the best center in the league? I think the Orlando Magic have a player on their roster that will never allow that to happen.

  32. rico says:

    judgging by the eveness of the poll,

    this was a tough one, I chose

    extend bynum (young with loads of potential, lots of time to get pass the injuries)

    trade gasol ( well known center, great hight and defensive effort. along with an average post game)

    Cut Horford (never herd of the guy so he couldn’t be too special or intising for a trade)

    • JKlopp says:

      its not like al horford was the only all star of this group, and they are all rlly young

      • ian says:

        Come on… Lakers Need Bynum because she good and strong even though that he is injured he still help Lakers to win and rebound… that’t why he is good to EXTEND!!!

    • ian says:

      thats right Rico… that’s the one i chose too.. 😀

  33. mason eberle says:

    horford is good center, although he is undersized.bynum could be traded but he is a good player and is a reason the lakers are so good, but they dont need him with odom coming off the bench. gasol needs to be traded he has a decent team but the west is filled with solid teams they wont make the playoffs