The Cavs have reportedly signed Andrew Bynum, the much maligned center formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers… sort of. Bynum never actually played a minute for the Sixers, spending much of the year alternating between being injured and angering the good people of Philadelphia by bowling, despite his fragile knees, suffering a setback in his knee rehab in the process.
Going into the offseason, there was a lot of curiosity over what would be the market for Bynum’s services. The Sixers quickly took themselves out of that market, through their draft day acquisition of Nerlens Noel and a top-3 protected 2014 first round pick in exchange for All-Star point guard, Jrue Holiday. With that maneuver, Sixers’ GM Sam Hinkie signaled that he was committing to a rebuilding season and that Nerlens Noel would be his center of the future.
It quickly became clear that only three teams were really pursuing Bynum- the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Dallas Mavericks. As it turned out, the market for Bynum was pretty dry. The Cavaliers made the best offer, and from Bynum’s perspective, it’s not even that great an offer. Bynum’s deal will potentially pay him $12 million per season for 2 seasons, but he has to reach performance incentives, including a minimum numbers of games played in the first season. The second season is a team option. All told, Bynum is only guaranteed $6 million in this deal. This is basically a no brainer for the Cavaliers. The contract incentives Bynum must reach to get his money provide him a reason to care, to show up, and to not spend his time bowling instead of rehabbing. An engaged Andrew Bynum is a very, very good player. He’s arguably the second best center in the league, behind only Dwight Howard, when he’s on it. The trouble is his health and his attitude. This deal protects the Cavaliers from both of those potential downsides.
As far as things on the court go, the Cavs have built a neat team around star point guard, Kyrie Irving. They have a floor stretching power forward in the recently drafted Anthony Bennett. They have two very good big men, when healthy, in Anderson Varejao and now Bynum. They have backcourt scoring in bunches in Irving and promising shooting guard, Dion Waiters. Additionally, they added veteran guard and third place finisher for this year’s Sixth Man of the Year, Jarrett Jack. On the wing, they signed Earl Clark, who could intrigue if he builds off of a solid season of improvement last year. Head coach Mike Brown will get this group to defend better than last year, and now with Bynum, Brown has a very good rim protector to pair with Varejao’s active all-around defensive efforts. This is a team that should compete for a playoff spot, if things go right. Bynum will have a lot to say about that. Here’s hoping he takes advantage of this opportunity and reminds everyone of how good he can be when he’s right mentally and physically.
Feature image from Keith Allison via Flickr