Dec 23, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum reacts in the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers: What’s Next For Andrew Bynum?

The Cleveland Cavaliers have changed the status of center Andrew Bynum from unpaid suspension to paid leave, according to ESPN.com, but the net result is the same.

Bynum isn’t playing basketball for the Cavaliers … or anyone else, at least not for the time being.

Bynum was suspended for Cleveland’s game at Boston on Saturday and was docked one game check, roughly $111,000, and remains excused from all team activities indefinitely.

According to reports, the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat would be interested in Bynum should the Cavaliers release him before the remainder of his contract for this year becomes guaranteed, but a third suitor has also reportedly emerged.

He was not in the arena Sunday for the Cavaliers’ overtime loss at home to the Golden State Warriors and was suspended following an incident at practice on Friday. But ESPN.com reported, citing sources, that the decision to suspend Bynum came after a culmination of events over the last several weeks.

It’s worth pointing out that it didn’t work out in Cleveland despite Bynum being reunited with coach Mike Brown, for whom Bynum played in 2011-12 with the Los Angeles Lakers when he earned his lone career All-Star berth and posted career-high averages of 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 35.2 minutes per game.

Bynum had played in 24 of the Cavaliers’ first 28 games prior to his suspension, starting 19. But he was averaging 20 minutes per game and putting up 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 41.9 percent, the lowest mark since his rookie season with the Lakers in 2005-06.

Bynum missed all of last season with the Philadelphia 76ers because of knee troubles and signed a two-year, partially guaranteed deal with Cleveland that makes him an attractive trade target.

So who might be interested in a disgruntled big man who, at least from outside appearances, doesn’t really seem to be all that interested in playing basketball?

The Los Angeles Times reported in the wake of Bynum’s suspension that the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat might be the two teams most interested in adding Bynum.

However, that report indicated the Clippers’ interest would come into play if the Cavaliers released Bynum.

The Heat are also reported to be interested in the 7-footer, who, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, had developed a disruptive pattern of behavior which reportedly came to a head Friday with Bynum taking wild shots at practice, an unprofessional thing for a veteran to do, particularly with a team with so many young players.

Only $6 million of Bynum’s two-year, $24.8 million is guaranteed if he is waived before Jan. 7 and the 2014-15 part of the deal doesn’t kick in unless Bynum makes the roster next year.

A third potential suitor could emerge, according to ESPN.com. The Chicago Bulls might be able to use a Bynum trade to clear cap space. Trading Bynum for pending free agent Luol Deng, then immediately waiving Bynum, would bring the Bulls’ payroll under the luxury-tax line, saving the team about $20 million overall.

However, sources say the Bulls want to hang onto Deng and want to re-sign him this summer. But Cleveland has been, and still is, interested in adding Deng.

If Cleveland can’t move Bynum before the Jan. 7 drop-dead date for his deal to become guaranteed for the full season, they could waive him, which would get them off the hook for the rest of his contract, but would make Bynum a free agent.

The Akron Beacon-Journal reported that the Cavs might decide to keep Bynum, however. They would have until June 30 to trade or release him before the second year of the contract becomes guaranteed.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Beacon-Journal report included this tidbit: Bynum’s locker hasn’t been cleared out and he remains part of the pregame introduction video. However, the team did not give away the Bynum Fathead as scheduled and fans 14 and younger were given a certificate for a future Fathead pack.

It’s a complicated situation, with lots of nuance and questions about where Bynum’s head might be in terms of his basketball future.

In other words: Just another day in the life and NBA times of Andrew Bynum.

Tags: Andrew Bynum Chicago Bulls Cleveland Cavaliers Los Angeles Clippers Miami Heat

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