Posted January 08, 2014

The courtship of Andrew Bynum begins: Examining the center’s potential suitors

Andrew Bynum, Rob Mahoney
Andrew Bynum hasn't been all that effective this season, but his size and past performance will intrigue teams all the same. (David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Andrew Bynum hasn’t been all that effective this season, but his size and past performance will intrigue teams all the same. (David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Cavaliers’ decision to trade Andrew Bynum to the Bulls not only changed the course of those two franchises but also created a unique scenario in which other teams could compete to sign a notable talent midseason.

Although he in no way lived up to his reputation or his previous standard as a member of the Cavs, Bynum is a skilled 7-footer all the same. Teams will line up to take a chance on a player of his ilk, and according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, as many as eight are expected to vie for Bynum’s services for the remainder of the season. Some are in a better position to make him an offer than others, but below are a collection of teams that could potentially be in the running.

Possible destinations

Miami Heat — Miami is bound to be mentioned when any remotely interesting point guard or center becomes available. In theory, the Heat are in position to take a flier on a risky pickup like Bynum. In basketball terms, though, one could hardly find a more awkward fit. Miami thrives through its ability to leverage space and pressure opponents defensively, both of which would be tricky with the lumbering Bynum, a post-up player, in the mix. He’s not a bad source for the occasional post score, but I’d question whether the Heat — who aren’t exactly hurting for offensive efficiency — really need such a thing.

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The more specific value of signing Bynum might lie in countering the formidable Pacers, but that would be an exceedingly narrow purpose for a player who will only increase Miami’s tax bill. The Heat could offer Bynum anything up to the $3.2 million taxpayer mid-level exception, which has gone unused since the offseason. But remember that Miami amnestied Mike Miller for the sole purpose of alleviating its tax burden, trusting in those players who remained — with a few minimum-salary additions — to complete the three-peat. That last bit provides the fine print on a potential Bynum signing: With the contract-guarantee deadline having functionally passed, one such minimum-salary player (Michael Beasley, Greg Oden or Roger Mason) would have to be released at a cost simply to clear a roster spot.

Brooklyn Nets — Brooklyn’s potential courtship of Bynum comes down to two factors: the Nets’ willingness to lean on yet another player limited by injury and how little regard Mikhail Prokhorov has for money. As far as the former, Bynum is hardly the image of stability for a team that badly needs it. The Nets play stilted, out-of-sync basketball in part because they’ve played much of their season as an incomplete team. Bynum might only contribute to that, as his ability to play regular minutes at a high level is very much in question.

With regard to the money, Brooklyn has the ability to sign Bynum to a salary up to $5.2 million for one year — courtesy of a league-granted disabled player exception — but may lack the financial abandon. That’s an odd thing to say of a team and owner that are already projected to shell out $189 million this season between roster salary and the luxury tax, though at some point a line needs to be drawn to hedge against Brooklyn’s 13-21 record. If the Nets signed Bynum for any significant portion of that disabled player exception, they could be adding some $20 million to their tax bill. That might be a bridge too far even for the free-spending Prokhorov.

Oklahoma City Thunder — This one’s a complete long shot because it’s unlikely that the culture-conscious Thunder would seriously consider bringing in a player who was cut loose for bad behavior. Still, at the very least it’s interesting that Oklahoma City skirted roughly $2.3 million under the luxury-tax line by finding a taker for Ryan Gomes while still having the $2 million biannual exception and full mid-level exception ($5.2 million) in its back pocket. Some move might be coming for the Thunder, and acquiring Bynum could help the team transition away from its self-imposed dependence on Kendrick Perkins.

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New Orleans Pelicans — Coach Monty Williams still doesn’t quite seem comfortable with the various arrangements of his frontcourt players, but he could draw on a more conventional, low-post center option if the Pelicans added Bynum. They have the full room exception (worth $2.7 million) to entice him, but he would have to be sold on the prospect of competing for a playoff spot as opposed to contending for a title. How much that matters to Bynum remains to be seen, as does New Orleans’ willingness to take the plunge on yet another significant addition with its reshaped roster settling in.

Also worth noting: New Orleans recently signed Alexis Ajinca to fill minutes at center, and he’s done so capably. Ajinca isn’t so good as to rule out Bynum as a possibility, but his addition certainly qualifies as a mitigating factor.

Atlanta Hawks — One of the better fits on the board. Atlanta was among the handful of teams to meet with Bynum during free agency last summer, and its need for center help has only grown since. Al Horford’s season-ending pectoral injury has changed the trajectory of the team quite a bit. While still third in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks have petered out with three straight losses and a ramshackle frontcourt rotation. Bynum could help on that front in controlled minutes while benefiting from Paul Millsap’s support, Jeff Teague’s playmaking and Kyle Korver’s spot shooting.

The unexpected release of Cartier Martin also gives Atlanta the requisite roster spot to make a move. It could be Bynum’s, provided he would be content with Atlanta’s station as a non-contender and a salary within the Hawks’ remaining room exception.

Charlotte Bobcats — Another room-exception candidate in a position to take a chance. Charlotte has taken a tumble in dropping eight of its last 10 games and could very much use a backup to Al Jefferson with some ability to create offense. Bynum fits the bill, but he’d have to consent to playing a complementary role for a lesser team on a modest salary. I doubt that’s what Bynum has in mind for his midseason courtship, but I could understand why Charlotte might be interested in making its pitch.

Minimum-salary market

If Bynum — who already had his coffers lined by the Lakers, Sixers and Cavaliers — is willing to play for the prorated veteran minimum, he’ll likely have an opportunity to join a potential championship contender a solid playoff team or the Knicks:

Los Angeles Clippers — Bynum is reportedly keen on the idea of joining the Clippers, and boy could they use the help. Leaning on the combination of Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins for regular minutes is a lamentable path toward contention, but the Clippers have had little other choice with their mid-level exception split between Darren Collison and Matt Barnes and their biannual exception still committed from signing Grant Hill last year. Even a stiff, slow Bynum would help a team so strapped for rotation-level talent in its frontcourt.

Golden State Warriors — If the Warriors wanted to double-down on the Jermaine O’Neal experience, Bynum could be right in their wheelhouse. The whirring of the rumor mill seems to suggest that Golden State might be more interested in adding a reserve ball handler, but they warrant mentioning if only because Marreese Speights and David Lee continue to see regular minutes together. Bynum isn’t the defender that O’Neal was or that the Warriors need, but he’s a big body and he’s not Marreese Speights.

Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs were a contender for Bynum’s services over the summer, and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein confirmed that they will be among the eight teams to pursue Bynum once he clears waivers. The issue there is that playing time is the most attractive element of Dallas’ offer, and even that can’t be guaranteed with coach Rick Carlisle so firmly in command of his team’s rotation. Last season Carlisle rightly benched center Chris Kaman, who was playing on a $9 million contract. This season he’s had his patience tested by Samuel Dalembert, who has deservedly been yo-yoed in and out of the starting lineup. I doubt Carlisle would have much more tolerance for Bynum’s brand of coach irritation, but the Mavs are desperate enough for help at the position that they might be able to make an exception.

New York Knicks — Another oft-mentioned landing spot, given the Knicks’ across-the-board needs, but if you were in Bynum’s position, what would entice you to sign? The Knicks are 12-22 with a clear starter at Bynum’s position in Tyson Chandler. They have only the minimum salary to offer, having tied up their mid-level exception with Metta World Peace and Pablo Prigioni. They run an offense that revolves around a ball-dominant forward who likes to work in the post, employ a handful of shoot-first players at other positions and won’t be contending for anything of import. I’m sure the team’s desperation will stoke its interest, but what reason does Bynum have to oblige?

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40 comments
JohnElliott
JohnElliott

90% of Bynum is mental. As a laker he did great when he was involved and wanted to play. The biggest issue is having him involved where he is not relied upon to be either the savior or the only option. Sure his knees aren't great but if its title time he could play 15-20 a night. Phil had no problem along with Kobe usually getting Bynum to do what was needed. He needs the veteran leadership around. I still think he is just being smart and taking the paycheck till he lands where he wants to be. He was pissed to be traded from the Lakers. 

J.Rob
J.Rob

OKC would be a championship contender with the addition to Bynum next to Ibaka. Defense & scoring. The article stated that OKC is under the Tax line $2.3 million for the Ryan Gomes trade. They still have the 5.2 million (which is 7.5 million) for the Kevin Martin deal. If they trade Perkins ($16 million contract) for a 2nd round pick & money it would open up more cap space and ability to sign (this would give them $23.5 million in cap space). If they go through with the Iman Shumpert ($1.5 million contract) move they would most likely shop Seflosha's expiring 4 million dollar contract adding a trade exception & 2nd round pick (which they may do a 3 team deal for Perkins to get). This would give OKC Thunder $27.5 million in cap space which would make it easier to sign Andrew Bynum & provide extensions for players they would want to keep. 10 to 12 million of that & 2 yrs would probably keep Bynum put. With Bynum and Ibaka in the paint teams would be forced to make jump shots. Bad News for the Heat. Even Golden State have to go inside sometimes. offensively their scoring inside will win games especially with KD outside. Russ could finally rest a little before playoffs.

Mr. J
Mr. J

The only team that should really want him and be able to control this knucklehead would be the heat, why would any other team want this guy.  Only because Oden still has not played and he would probably respect and listen to Wade and Lebron. They only need him for 18 min a night come playoffs which is probably what he is good for nowadays anyway.

Femi
Femi

I think you're wrong about his value to the Heat. If there's any team the Heat should fear, it's the Pacers. And if all that Oden and Bynum do is counter the Pacers, so be it.

RobShelley
RobShelley

Why are teams wanting to sign him? Because he has huge upside and will play for a relatively low price. Sure, it's almost sure to be a mistake... but lots of teams will gamble on taking a shot. I wouldn't sign him more for the bad PR and locker-room poison than for the price tag. But let's not forget that, even two years ago, some people pegged him as the number one center in the league over Dwight Howard, Al Horford, and Tyson Chandler. Sounds crazy now, just two years removed, but that's the allure.

riley8
riley8

How about a contract for $0 and incentives to actually be a member of the team.  Include a clause that says he pays back anything he earns when he becomes the inevitable doosh bag he is.

Justin37
Justin37

anytime there is a Free agent like this the stupid Selfish Miami Heatcocksuckers an there stupid 

Forign slanted eyed piece a Trash coach are always in the front of the Line 

bobdevo
bobdevo

Suckers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

chiefdavid
chiefdavid

one of the biggest all time bums for sure. 

chiefdavid
chiefdavid

i can't imagine anyone wanting this loser!!! he's a cancer to any team, period.

Sulkaman
Sulkaman

Out of principle alone this bum shouldn't be signed. Wait, these aren't principled people we are talking about here. Never mind. He'll get paid.

lionoah
lionoah

I'll repeat what all these guys are saying here: you gotta be kidding me!


This guy had a problem giving his all for the Lakers when he was making PREMIUM cash! On a title contender! For the greatest coach ever known! In Los Angeles!


THEN, he went to Philadelphia and utterly refused to take rehab seriously. Pocketed the cash while the bridges burned and left the team in a worse state than he found it.


THEN he went to sad-sack Cleveland...clearly it couldn't get any lower for him. He ruined that team, I think. Worst free-agent pickup in a long-time.


NOW teams are bidding for his services? Begging him to take their millions for a shell of what he used to be? Even more jaded and disinterested in the game than he's ever been? He doesn't have the discipline to just go to work and do a good job because it's been so long since he last did it.


Shaq called him a juvenile delinquent when the Lakers drafted him in the first place...I don't even know if Shaq knew how right he was.


Unbelievable! 

ikeman
ikeman

Are you kidding me? How many more teams is Bynum going to snooker before he's done?

ChiefG
ChiefG

He just wants the money, but doesn't want to play for it.

Lazy bum

Chris10
Chris10

To any team that signs him:  Send me money so I can not play too, I'll sit on the end of the bench and complain about the pain in my knees and how I don't want to play basketball.  I'll do it for the minimum or millions if you want to waste the money

6marK6
6marK6

The guy is poison. 

Median2
Median2

Bets are he goes to the heat and has a revival season, or some other bush league organization.

NoThanksESPNFacebook
NoThanksESPNFacebook

If 6 million wasn't enough to motivate him, how will offering much less? The passion is gone, make room for people who actually want to play unless you want to see what kinds of stupid hairstyles he will be rocking on the bench.

DBLETAP
DBLETAP

I don't understand why any team would consider picking up someone who has succinctly demonstrated the same thing repeatedly:  he does not take any joy in playing basketball.  He has spoken of retiring.  He has delayed surgery so that he could attend other events, at the expense of his team.  All while collecting a LARGE sum of money.  What GM in their right mind would want an unpassionate person like that occupying a roster spot?  What owner would allow it?  Do I blame Bynum for accepting payment for his "services"?  No.  If someone is crazy enough to pay him, I blame that person and organization.


There are hundreds of people in the D-League, other leagues, and overseas that are hungry.  He's not hungry.  Sure, he'll say all the right things to get the contract, but here's hoping those teams seriously considering this will have the sense to talk to the staff in Philly and Cleveland to prevent themselves from being "Bynumed".

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@Mr. J You think he will listen to Wade & Lebron when he wouldn't listen to Phil Jackson,Kobe,Derek Fisher, Kupchak etc etc…….. The guy is a train wreck 

J.Rob
J.Rob

@Femi The only teams that have a solid big in the East that can contest the Heat is Charlotte, Pacers, Toronto & Detroit. I doubt they can actually get to challenge them. It would be because of their seed if they don't see them in the Playoffs. Detroit should hold on they can possibly wear the Heat down if they can get 7th seed.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@RobShelley Huge upside? Good one buddy. He's a 26 year old with 2 bad knees and an even worse attitude. A team is lucky if they get a shell of himself with the pain in the butt that comes with it.

Mr. J
Mr. J

@Justin37 Wow you have some issues so from an article about Bynum you end up making insults to Asians....Man you need to get a life and a group hug.....Loser

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Justin37And based on their two consecutive championships they seem to be doing a great job at picking the right player with an added bonus of getting geniuses like you to toss tantrums.

Gapzilla
Gapzilla

@Justin37 Before you go off on an ill advised, poorly typed, bigoted rant, you should at least have some knowledge. Coach Spoelstra is American, being born in Illinois.

J.Rob
J.Rob

@lionoah I honestly can say I am a fan of Bynum from the Laker years. I'm not a fan of how he went about his rehab. He really could have been back sooner if he had taken it seriously. At least he came back. No one is giving D.Rose heck for being afraid to play when he could have helped his team in the playoffs against the Heat. Andrew Bynum never got along with Mike Brown, He got 2 rings with Phil Jackson. He was traded and played around with the 76ers. Everybody new he didn't want to play there but he got paid. Lol then when no one would give him top dollar the team that hired their new head coach Mike Brown would want to grab him. At least he cam back & was healthy. Mike Brown & him got into it again and he is back in free agency with his millions. I hope he chooses OKC. Just don't give him Mike Brown & give him a contender & he will be cool. Lol he probably will get another ring before Dwight Howard gets his first one.

ikeman
ikeman

@DBLETAP 

How do you re-injure your knee bowling while in rehab? Whack your knee with the ball?

Not let go of the ball and roll down the lane with it? However he did it,that was just sad.

J.Rob
J.Rob

@M as in Mancy @RobShelley Maybe so but with two bad knees & a years vacation he put up nearly 10pts & 7 reb a game. With a season high over 20. From the games he does still have post moves. Offensively with the right team. Preferably OKC he could be back to normal.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@J.Rob @M as in Mancy @RobShelley The stats look decent, especially when accounting for efficiency. But at the end of the day, it's not going to overcome the fact that healthwise he's a situational guy at this point. Teams tolerate talented idiots or idiots with potential. Not pain in the azz distractions from role players.