Posted July 10, 2013

Reports: Andrew Bynum agrees to sign with Cavaliers

Andrew Bynum, Ben Golliver, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers
Andrew Bynum (center) met the Philadelphia media last summer but never suited up for the 76ers. (David Dow/Getty Images)

Andrew Bynum (center) met the Philadelphia media in 2012 but never played for the 76ers. (David Dow/Getty Images)

The Cavaliers have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent center Andrew Bynum to a multi-year contract, according to multiple reports.

ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports both report that Bynum is heading to Cleveland after sitting out the entire 2012-13 season in Philadelphia with knee injuries.  He will reportedly receive a two-year contract worth $24 million; only $6 million of Bynum’s 2013-14 salary will be guaranteed and the second year will be a team option. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Wednesday that the Mavericks and Hawks were the two other finalists for Bynum’s services, according to the 7-footer’s agent.

Bynum, 25, last played for the Lakers during the 2011-12 season, averaging a career-high 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 60 appearances while earning his first All-Star nod. Traded to the 76ers in a 2012 four-team blockbuster trade that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers, Bynum never suited up in Philadelphia following a series of setbacks with both knees.

The bad news steadily trickled out for Bynum throughout the 2012-13 season. He sat out training camp and the preseason because of a bone bruise in his right knee. In November, Bynum told reporters that he had cartilage damage in his left knee, and later admitted that the “setback” happened while he was bowling. The Sixers had initially hoped he would return in December but eventually opted to list him as out indefinitely with bone bruises in both of his knees following that setback.

In January, Bynum was cleared to run and spoke about a return to the court after the All-Star Break. After participating in a 5-on-5 scrimmage in February, Bynum conceded on March 1 that he might not play this season because of swelling in his right knee. Season-ending surgery was then raised as a possibility in early March and he eventually underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees in mid-March.

The 2005 first-round pick holds career averages of 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

Without Bynum, Philadelphia missed the 2013 playoffs and finished with a record of 34-48. Sixers coach Doug Collins stepped down and the organization parted ways with GM Tony DiLeo before installing Rockets assistant GM Sam Hinkie as his replacement. Hinkie told reporters in May that retaining Bynum wasn’t necessarily a top priority.

“I think of Andrew like the thousands of other young men that are walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents, that have potential to play NBA basketball, and he is one of those,” Hinkie said, according to ProBasketballTalk.com.

Hinkie then traded All-Star guard Jrue Holiday for the rights to Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft.

Bynum’s addition adds to a busy, somewhat strange summer for the Cavaliers, who replaced coach Byron Scott and re-hired former coach Mike Brown before unexpectedly selecting UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. Cleveland has also agreed to sign free agent guard Jarrett Jack and forward Earl Clark.

Grade: C. You could hear writers from coast to coast sharpening their fingernails as they prepared to bang out angry screeds in response to whoever signed the most risky proposition in the 2013 class. Just this morning, The Point Forward was bracing for a giant mistake. All of that skepticism now appears to be overblown.

The risks are still risks: Bynum’s health, his commitment to getting healthy, his ability to stay healthy and questions about his general attitude haven’t gone anywhere. In addition to the laundry list of knee problems, let’s not forget that Bynum told the Los Angeles Times in April 2012 that he prefers to “Get my Zen on” during timeouts rather than participate in Brown’s huddles. What the Cavaliers did here, though, is limit their exposure.

This contract amounts to a one-year deal stocked with incentives that will guarantee Bynum, on a per-year basis, less than one-third of what Dwight Howard will make in Houston next season, less than what Tiago Splitter just signed for in San Antonio, and slightly more than what Zaza Pachulia just signed for in Milwaukee. Not bad at all. Bynum isn’t yet at the Greg Oden stage of the growth curve, where anything more than a veteran’s minimum would be an over-pay, but he is headed that direction quickly if things don’t work out this season. Should he approximate his 2011-12 production, or even achieve 70 percent of it, he will be worth the full $12 million figure. If not, the Cavaliers aren’t breaking the bank.

Cleveland is well-positioned to take this type of chance. Ownership clearly wants to win now while also preserving a level of cap flexibility for next summer if LeBron James somehow decides he wants to return to the Cavaliers. Signing Bynum to this type of deal accomplishes both goals. Now Brown and company will just cross their collective fingers that Bynum and Anderson Varejao don’t succumb to the injury problems that have plagued them.

The bust potential here is very real, which prevents this from being a “no-lose” situation. The direct and indirect costs of a lost season can mount up, just ask Philadelphia. Bynum has significant work to do in re-establishing his credibility as a player and as a person after a soap opera season in Philadelphia. It’s hard to know whether he cares enough to put in that work.

22 comments
DogPuncher
DogPuncher

how's he supposed to feed his family on 6 million per year?


-latrell sprewell

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

"...only $6 million of Bynum’s 2013-14 salary will be guaranteed..."

I know that there are many big bucks in pro sports, but it jars me to see the words , 'only $6 million... ' 

Will10
Will10

Cleveland's roster is actually kind of stacked now


SnobbyBoner1
SnobbyBoner1

They took a chance on Z and he never played a full season for 8 years.. and went on to play more games than any cav ever..and cavs have the cleveland clinic, case western and john hopkims medical staff check him out.. cavs are not dumb as they look

Joel1
Joel1

when an NBA guy misses a whole season, he rarely ever returns to his old form.

Yet another bad decision by Cleveland. Wasted millions.

6marK6
6marK6

Congratulations?

Mike_N.
Mike_N.

Hmmm... like he said there are banks in cities other then L.A.... He is getting paid again...

Dr.Killapatient
Dr.Killapatient

Ha ha. Yea, this is going to make Lebron really want to leave the Heat now. lol

David105
David105

hahahahaha, another screw you to the mavs, lol

ShawnKemp2012
ShawnKemp2012

Worth the risk.  Something tells me this will be Bynums last contract.  

6marK6
6marK6

@Rickapolis It jarred me when I saw Pujols and King Felix get $25 million a year, in Pujols' case, $250 million guaranteed. Then you realize, these owners are raking it in!

6marK6
6marK6

@Joel1 Look, Cleveland has money and it is one year contract. Don't like the guy, but it is not a huge gamble

cjsamms
cjsamms

First, LeBron ain't coming back to Cleveland any time soon. Not as long as the Heat can continue contending for the title. Riley has already proven he can keep adding the right pieces to keep the run alive. Plus, they all agreed to take less to play together. No reason to think they wouldn't take less to stay together.

Second, Bynum might be the best free agent bargain this year. Even with his injury history, they were still projecting him as a max or near max contract player. Last year's problems really reduced his market value. But it still doesn't take away from the fact that he's the best available center the Cavs can get this year or next year.

Third, it's a calculated risk. 1-yr deal with a team option for a 2nd yr. Not-so-high risk, high reward. When opportunity knocks, the last thing you want to do is make the mistake that OKC made when they reneged on the Tyson Chandler deal. Instead, the Mavs pulled the trigger on Chandler and won a title.

supinger
supinger

@cjsamms The Heat barely won the title this year.  Wade and Bosh aren't getting better at this point so I think it's fair to say as a team they've peaked.  

If Lebron goes to Cleveland after this season and they'd have him, Bynum, and Irving (and Bennett for that matter).  They would automatically be the favorites at least in the East if not overall.  He wants to go back so it seems like the perfect storm.

Sanity Reigns
Sanity Reigns

Yeah...and he promised at an Obama rally he wasn't intending to leave Cleveland either.....stupid Miami fans...he could give 2 shites about you....it's about rings....

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@supinger @The Dude   Well, LeBron promised the people and fans in Miami, "not three, not four..."

He can't leave Miami or else he would feel bad about that too as he would be upsetting them by not doing what he told them he would when he signed on there...

supinger
supinger

@The Dude @supinger LOL, pure speculation yes.  Let me rephrase that to be, I really think he wants to go back to Cleveland.  It seems to me that he's a pleaser and it kills him that the Cleveland fans don't like him right now and that he couldn't win a title there.

The Dude
The Dude

@supinger @cjsamms Did you have a conversation with LeBron where he shared the fact that he wants to go back or are you just a mind reader or, most likely, do you hear voices no one else does and suffer from delusions?