The Cleveland Cavaliers recently signed oft-injured center Andrew Bynum to a non-guaranteed, two-year contract potentially worth up to $24.5 million. The Cavs are only willing to guarantee up to $6 million given Bynum’s persistent knee problems and doubts about his attitude. The rest of his salary will largely depend on his health (e.g. games played, etc.) Signing up Bynum is indeed a Cavalier move.
It can be recalled that Bynum disappointed Philly fans when he failed to play a game in the 2012-2013 season. The 76ers were hopeful that a fully rehabilitated Bynum would give them the means to compete with the Eastern Conference elite. Unfortunately, Bynum failed in his rehab bid and underwent a season-ending surgery on both knees last March 2013. It will be recalled that before this surgery, the Sixers tried to sugarcoat the extent of Bynum’s injuries. Various pronouncements were made as to when Bynum could return to the court. It went from 3 weeks to 12 weeks to indefinitely.
According to reports, he has “completed” his rehab and will be ready for training camp with the Cavaliers.
When healthy, Bynum is considered one of the best men in the game. In his last season with the Lakers (2011-2012), Bynum averaged an impressive 19 points and 12 rebounds a game. It remains to be seen if his injury is chronic and if he can come back to his old self.
With Bynum on the court, the Cavaliers boast of one the best young units starting with All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, versatile big man Tristan Thompson, guard Dion Waiters, and the 2013 No. 1 draft pick Anthony Bennett. They also have Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller manning the frontcourt. Outside of Varejao, the rest of these players are only in their first few years in the league. After the LeBron James debacle, the Cavs have rebuilt slowly with high draft picks.
The Cavs are also lucky to acquire combo guard Jarrett Jack from free agency. He will serve as insurance since Irving has been somewhat injury prone. He will likewise mentor Waiters.
With this core of young and talented players, the Cavs will be one of the teams to watch and I predict that they will finally reach the playoffs after 3 seasons of irrelevance.
Grabbing Bynum and making him accept an incentive-based contract is a low-risk risk, high-reward move for the Cavs. At worse, Bynum won’t play at all and he will just be owed $6 million. Best case, they will have one of the best centers to play with their young turks.