The Cleveland Cavaliers announced last week that they had indefinitely suspended Andrew Bynum due to conduct detrimental to the team. His days in Cleveland are finished. Conflicting reports have surfaced that Bynum has lost interest in the sport, and that he didn’t even enjoy playing it very much to begin with. The team has actively engaged in trade talks with the rest of the NBA. On Jan. 7, the remaining $7 million of Bynum’s contract will become guaranteed, so the Cavs would like to move him before that date. They may also consider just cutting the problematic center, but a trade remains more likely. Insiders have reported Bynum considers the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers as his top choices.
The Bynum saga never fails to be interesting. As a teenager with the Lakers, he often annoyed Kobe Bryant, leading Kobe to demand that the franchise trade Bynum. They didn’t, and Bynum ended up playing a big role as Kobe earned his fourth and fifth rings. The Lakers then traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers in a four-team deal, leading Philadelphia to believe they had finally found the star center they had craved for so long. Except Bynum never played for them. Not one single game.
This brings us to his time in Cleveland, signing with the Cavs in the summer. On paper, the acquisition brought a lot of promise for the Cavs; they now had a proven big man to complement Kyrie Irving. Bynum would provide a strong second offensive threat and open the floor for Irving and the other shooters. Except things haven’t gone as planned. The team has not managed to create any sort of rhythm on offense. In 24 games, Bynum averaged only 20 minutes per game, posting 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest. His Per 36 Minutes number are better – 15.1 points and 9.5 rebounds – but they still trail his career averages. Furthermore, Bynum didn’t seem able to take on the amount of minutes a starter usually plays.
Bynum probably started wanting out of Cleveland once he realized this team wasn’t destined to do any significant damage. The Cavs are only 2.5 games out of a playoff spot, but don’t stand any chance against the East’s top teams like the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. By listing the Heat and Clippers as his top options, Bynum clearly wants to play for a contender, but be only the fourth option at most, not carrying the same expectations he had with the Cavs or the Lakers. His moves may be obnoxious, but they will work; some contender will pick up Bynum and maybe give him his third ring.
As for the Cavs, this doesn’t hurt them too much. Bynum had been somewhat insignificant. He would put up big numbers, then be completely absent the next time on the floor. Even without him, they can still contend for one of the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference. Despite how deep this draft is, it isn’t worth sacrificing the additional revenue that comes from playoff games just to get the 11th pick instead of the 15th. The Cavs surely are disappointed that this didn’t work out, but they can talk to the 76ers for consolation. They still have something to look forward to with Irving. As for Bynum? There’s no way to say what’s next for the center.