Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum was suspended indefinitely Saturday morning for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
The announcement was made by Cavs GM Chris Grant in a news release that also said Bynum did not travel with the team Friday night for Saturday afternoon’s game at Boston.
Bynum will not participate in any team activities until further notice.
The timing of the suspension could dramatically impact Cleveland’s payroll. Bynum signed a two-year, $24.5 million contract with the Cavaliers in the offseason, but “only” the first $6 million is guaranteed.
On Jan. 10, all contracts become fully guaranteed for the remainder of the season. If the Cavaliers waive Bynum by Jan. 7, they will save themselves $6 million this season and $12.5 million next season, for which they hold an option.
Whether or not Bynum is reinstated, Grant likely will hold onto him as long as possible because his contract and its immediate $6 million savings this season could be a valuable trade chip.
As usual, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski already has chimed in via Twitter with this from a league source: ”He doesn’t want to play basketball anymore. He never liked it that much in first place.”
The fact that Bynum has even played this season has been somewhat surprising. He missed all of last season with the Philadelphia 76ers due to chronic knee issues, never taking the court while making $16.9 million. He had a setback during rehab when he hurt a knee while bowling and also was seen dancing at a nightclub.
Bynum, 26, is averaging 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 20 minutes this season, primarily as a starter. He has shown brief flashes of his once-dominant play and has two 20-10 games.
A week ago, Bynum had 19 points and seven rebounds in a loss to Chicago. He followed that with an 0-of-11 vs. Detroit on Monday and just four points in Thursday’s double-overtime loss to Atlanta.
Bynum was an All-Star in 2012, his last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won championships as the starting center alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. He was dealt to Philadelphia as part of the huge four-team trade that brought Dwight Orlando from Orlando to LA.
Expected to contend for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs are 10-18 and have had all sorts of personnel issues this season.
Top overall draft pick Anthony Bennett has struggled mightily and has heard boos at home games. A players meeting devolved into a shouting match between Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.
In Bynum’s absence, Anderson Varejao likely will start with Tyler Zeller – who has played just 139 minutes this season after a solid rookie campaign – assuming the backup role.