When the Cavs signed Andrew Bynum last summer to a creatively structured, heavily incentivized contract, it was seen as a low-risk, high-reward move capable of pushing Cleveland at the very least into the lower half of the Eastern Conference playoff ladder.
Clearly that last part isn’t happening. At least not with Bynum around. The Cavs have suspended Bynum indefinitely, and according to multiple sources are shopping him heavily.
The good news? Aside from completely ruining Andrew Bynum Fathead Night on Sunday at the Q — the giveaway has been canceled — the Cavs could still make lemonade out of their seven-foot lemon.
The flexibility in Bynum’s deal, combined with his size and, contextually speaking, decent results this season (until his final two games) mean he could have some appeal on the open market. Teams interested in saving money might take advantage of the ability to cut him before January 7, move him before the deadline, or as a chip to use this summer if a potential trade partner wanted to dump salary.
A squad looking for frontcourt depth, say the Clippers or Miami, might take a flier on Bynum if the cost to acquire him wasn’t prohibitive. Even in a diminished state, there aren’t a lot of guys floating around with Bynum’s physical profile, and if he regains some mobility between now and April, he could be an asset in the playoffs.
We’ll see how that plays out over the next 10 days.
More interesting is the idea of whether Bynum even wants to play at all. Going back to his days in L.A., where I covered him from the beginning, there have always been questions about how much he truly loved the game. Setting aside questions of attitude (he grew into a serious horse’s ass over his tenure as a Laker), Bynum has always had other interests, and seemed to fit the profile of a guy playing because a) he was very tall, b) he was a fantastic athlete, and c) tall, fantastic athletes can make a ton of money playing basketball.
So to see some sources saying now he doesn’t really want to play isn’t a shock. If you’re not heart-and-soul into it anyway, going through the grind of constant rehab, as Bynum has for a few seasons now, is a total drag. Especially now, because he’s already made his money. Once the cash is in the bank, the drive has to come from somewhere else.
Given how awful the partnership was in Los Angeles, I’m not surprised it didn’t work out with Mike Brown in a second go-round. Particularly given how bad the Cavs have turned out to be. Bynum is clearly not a guy you want hanging around while things are going wrong and wasn’t playing well enough in Cleveland to justify the headache, but there’s still the question of how he’d respond if given a useful role on a contending team.
If Bynum says he wants to find out, he’ll probably get the opportunity.
On to the rankings.