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How does the Andrew Bynum Signing Impact the Cavaliers?

by Photo of Kenneth Teape

While risky, bringing Bynum aboard is a win-win situation for the Cavaliers in the long run.

How does the Andrew Bynum Signing Impact the Cavaliers?

On Wednesday it became official that the Cleveland Cavaliers and free agent center Andrew Bynum agreed to a contract extension. The deal is worth $24 million over two years, but only $6 million will be guaranteed the first year with tons of health-related incentives throughout. The second year is a team option so incase he flames out again the Cavaliers can let him go. It was a three-team race for Bynum’s services, as the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks all talked with Bynum after their efforts to woo Dwight Howard fell on deaf ears and he went to the Houston Rockets. Neither team offered nearly what Cleveland did in guaranteed money, leading to Bynum accepting the Cavaliers offer.

Bynum was the key piece in the big Howard trade that landed the center with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, with Bynum ending up with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic receiving other pieces and draft picks. Bynum never got on the court with the 76ers though, making headlines for growing his hair out and making appearance at a local Philadelphia bowling alley.

While he endured a lot of ribbing from people around the basketball world, Bynum is a very talented center when healthy, key words being "when healthy," which has been rare throughout his NBA career. Bynum played all 82 games just once in his eight year career and has appeared in only 338 of 640 games, good for 53 percent.

The last season he played was during the lockout shortened 2011-2012 season with the Lakers, Bynum played in 60 of 66 games and played well. He averaged 18.7 points on 55.8 percent shooting, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 35.2 minutes per game.

He is not exactly a shining star on the court though. What many fans remember Bynum for is the lack of respect some would call it that he sometimes shows his superiors. In a game against the Golden State Warriors Bynum stepped up and launched a three pointer early in the shot clock. In response head coach Mike Brown benched him and while on the bench Bynum was seen laughing and joking around with teammates. 

Instead of taking the benching as a message, Bynum in the post game interview said that he would continue to take three pointers in an attempt to show that he has expanded his game.

Bynum might have a few character flaws and not always try as hard as people would like but this is a risk the Cavaliers and any team in their position would make 100 out of 100 times. This is the lowest of low risk moves a franchise could make with the highest of rewards. The worst that happens is that Bynum cannot get healthy and the Cavaliers lose out on $6 million; not something a team wants but at the same time it's not going to devastate them in the long run.

With that scenario the Cavaliers have also set themselves up to succeed. Without a healthy Bynum the Cavaliers are most likely going to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference and in the lottery once again. With that comes the chance to finish in the top-10 if not the top-5 in a draft of what is considered by many the most loaded draft class since Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh highlighted the one in 2003.

The Cavaliers have a very promising core led by All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. GM Chris Grant has surrounded him with promising young talent such as guards Dion Waiters and Sergey Karasev, big men Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and 2013 number one overall pick Anthony Bennett. There are also solid veterans like Anderson Varejao, Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark in place now as well to make a competitive but not great team. If Bynum is unable to perform this season and they end up missing the playoffs again, adding a super-talented prospect in the loaded draft could be the last piece to push them into the playoffs and convince Irving to stick around past his rookie deal.

On the other hand Bynum could produce, making the Cavaliers a scary team for the upper echelon teams in the Eastern Conference to deal with. The Miami Heat namely would struggle defending a healthy Bynum as we saw the playoffs this year they made the Indiana Pacers' Roy Hibbert look like Hakeem Olajuwon; imagine what a center with an actual offensive arsenal would do against them. The Cavaliers would also have one of the best centers in the NBA under their control through at least 2015 for a very favorable price of $12 million. To compare, Howard is about to sign a contract that will pay him north of $20 million annually, Brook Lopez makes $15.729 million on average per year from the Brooklyn Nets and Hibbert makes $14,565,271 on average per season; Bynum is the only player when healthy on Howard’s level overall and light years ahead of Lopez and Hibbert as a complete player. Basically if you combined Lopez and Hibbert you would have Bynum.

Another thing that people are overlooking is who the Cavaliers coach is. Mike Brown, on his second tenure with the team after being let go in the Lebron James exodus, was the Lakers head coach when Bynum had his best season in the NBA. The familiarity that Brown and his staff have with Bynum will make the transition much easier as they work him back onto the basketball court and into their game plan. His success as a head coach and experience is also something that the Cavaliers will benefit from no matter how the Bynum situation plays out.

In the end this is as close to a win-win the Cavaliers front office could get. The only negative thing that could happen is that the fans outcry over signing a risk like Bynum was a poor decision and they complain a little. On the other hand those would be the same fans bashing him for not getting Bynum if he dominated somewhere else. Not everyone can be pleased as there will always be someone pessimistic about the decisions Grant makes.

Ultimately Bynum was the last impact talent left on what was a pretty slim free agent market to start. He has superstar talent, is a former All-Star with playoff experience thanks to two title runs with the Lakers and is still only 25 years old. He has some growing up to do it seems but all in all this makes for a great investment on behave of the Cavaliers as they will have useful assets in the end one way or another.

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