When center Andrew Bynum was officially waived by the Chicago Bulls after a surprising trade involving Luol Deng, eight NBA teams originally contacted the former All-Star in hopes that he would sign and make their frontcourts more dangerous. Apparently, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the East-leading Indiana Pacers were one of those eight and are contemplating giving the troublemaker a destination.
The situation is a bit interesting, considering it was the Miami Heat, Indiana’s biggest rival at this point, who dominated the discussions around possibly signing Bynum after he cleared waivers. Many thought Bynum’s best option would be to join Miami and be under the realm of the oldest team in the league. By oldest, of course, I mean the most veteran team in all of basketball and one that could help him get his head back on his shoulders, personal mindset fixed and basketball skills adjusted for dominance. The last time a healthy Andrew Bynum contributed to a veteran squad, he averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2011-12 season.
Indiana hasn’t offered Bynum anything at this point, but are said to have exploratory interest in bringing him along to join the threatening second unit General Manager Kevin Pritchard put together this offseason.
Andrew Bynum latest: Hear Clips leaning away from idea of signing Bynum for now AND that Indy is among teams to express exploratory interest
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 12, 2014
Pacers, I’m told, have NOT made a formal offer to Andrew Bynum. But they were among original eight teams to call Bynum’s camp this week
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 12, 2014
Throughout Bynum’s career, he has been used to fitting into the starting center role, even most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This season, Bynum started 19 of the 24 games he participated in. He hasn’t played horrific like his former teammate Anthony Bennett, but it is just not the same Andrew Bynum that won back-to-back titles with Los Angeles. He has shot 41.9 percent from the field on 8.5 shot attempts per game in 2013-14, playing exactly 20 minutes per contest.
There are three primary reasons the Pacers need to steer clear of this possible acquisition.
First and foremost, people are forgetting that even at 26 years old, Bynum’s knees are dissipated. Comparable to the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire, it would take a miracle for Bynum to be able to contribute anything to a team that relies so heavily on their defense, as Indiana does. The word around the league since his tragic stint with the Philadelphia 76ers has been that Bynum’s knees aren’t far from being compared to an 80-year-old’s. The fact that Indiana wants to bolster their bench with another large center is fine, but we are all aware of his attitude issues. Does Indiana honestly believe Bynum is going to buy into the idea of playing second fiddle to Roy Hibbert? Don’t get ludicrous, Hibbert will always remain the starter as long as he’s in Indianapolis, but Bynum’s arrogance probably has him thinking he’s better than Hibbert. The best advice to give the Pacers would be to realize this isn’t 2011, and the Cavaliers’ roster and front office might be willing to give the details on why Bynum’s attitude and conduct led to a suspension. A championship team doesn’t need any of that commotion.
Moving to another issue, the Pacers don’t exactly need another big in the rotation. In terms of the team overall, the Pacers have the absolute stoutest defense in the league, with a defensive rating of 94.8 (first). Defensive rating is the ultimate indicator of how well a team gets stops, measuring points allowed per 100 possessions. Indiana only allows 87.9 points per game (first), and always out-rebound their opponents in critical games. On the offensive side of things, it’s a strong thought that giving Bynum his opportunities in the paint will make them even worse of an offensive team, considering he’s been the definition of inconsistent this year. He’ll have his standout games scoring 20 points (Nov. 30 vs. Chicago and Dec. 6 vs. Atlanta), but kill a team’s offense on most nights. Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi is far more athletic, active on defense, and his teammates love having him in the rotation for 15.7 minutes per night. There’s no sense to messing that up.
On another note of why Indiana should stay away from Bynum, the assets Kevin Pritchard and Larry Bird brought in this summer all have a commonality. Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland are all guys that have developed great reputations around the league, two of them being considered veterans. Neither has griped about playing time, been injury prone, or had a bad attitude on the court this season. When Chris Broussard reported last week that Bynum’s decision would be based on playing time, playing for a playoff team, and the money involved, it went through my mind that he’s going to have a hard time finding the right team. Coach Frank Vogel deserves a round of applause and the Coach of the Year award for striving to create camaraderie within the group of guys he has, and signing Bynum would be nothing but a risk.
Why risk the two things (chemistry and defense) that you believe can win your franchise their first NBA Championship?
The Miami Heat, the only team Indiana has to worry about, aren’t even too sure they will be able to lure Bynum to Miami. Even though the playing time would be there for Bynum, Miami doesn’t want to dish out too much of their taxpayer midlevel exception ($3.2 million) to a guy that has embarrassed TWO franchises (76ers and Cavaliers). If they indeed make Bynum a offer, it’s up to the Heat to turn him back into a guy that can focus on basketball, not fooling around with coaches wives, or complaining.
With how superior Indiana has looked this season in the Eastern Conference, the level of concern isn’t high at all if Bynum takes his talents to South Beach. There are too many risks, and to end on a simple thought: If it’s not broke … don’t fix it.