With free agency now underway, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be in hot pursuit for suitors to fill around two to three spots on their roster for the 2013-14 NBA season. With $19.5 million in cap space to spend this summer, Cleveland will be attempting to add pieces that will allow them to compete at a playoff-ready level and get them out of the cellar that they have been in for the last three seasons. Here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players this summer that the Cavaliers have been rumored to be interested in – free agents that we think could fill positional needs for the Wine and Gold moving forward.
Today we will be profiling center Andrew Bynum:
Andrew Bynum is a complete mess at this point. After being whisked away to the Philadelphia 76ers in the deal that sent a even greater mess in Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, Bynum’s knees and bowling habits kept him out the entire 2012-13 season despite reports that he would return over and over again. Of course Bynum’s agent is saying now that he is 100 percent and ready to go by training camp, even though he won’t be working out for any teams. Because of his status as (at some point in his short career) one of the NBA’s elite and true centers, he will most likely be demanding a max contract. I don’t think it is smart for the Cavs to swing a deal like this, but let’s now break down whether or not Bynum would be a good addition to the Wine and Gold squad.
05-06: 46 GP, 0 GS, 1.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 40.2 FG%, 29.6 FT%
06-07: 82 GP, 53 GS, 7.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 55.8 FG%, 66.8 FT%
07-08: 35 GP, 25 GS, 13.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 63.6 FG%, 69.5 FT%
08-09: 50 GP, 50 GS, 14.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 56.0 FG%, 70.7 FT%
09-10: 65 GP, 65 GS, 15.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 57.0 FG%, 73.9 FT%
10-11: 54 GP, 47 GS, 11.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 57.4 FG%, 66.0 FT%
11-12: 60 GP, 60 GS, 18.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 55.8 FG% 69.2 FT%
Career: 392 GP, 300 GS, 11.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 56.6 FG%, 68.7 FT%
Rumors surrounding the Cavs’ interest in signing Bynum:
According to Yannis Koutroupis of Hoopsworld the Cavaliers are going to be “kicking the tires,” or giving it a shot, as far as pursuing the All-Star center goes. Even though Bynum’s agent will be providing medical records for the injury-riddled big, as stated before Bynum will not be working out for teams during the offseason. Whether this is because his agent feels he is already a proven center or there is something still not worked out with his knees is unknown, but Cleveland will definitely be in talks with the seven-year veteran in the near future. The report that Cleveland will be looking out for Bynum in the offseason was later confirmed by Cavs beat reporter for the News-Herald Bob Finnan. Since Cleveland didn’t extend qualifying offers to Wayne Ellington or Omri Casspi and Marreese Speights opted out of his contract with the Cavs, the Cavs have a litter extra spending money to dish out to a higher-level player. I don’t think Bynum is that player, but Cleveland and general manager Chris Grant will keep their options open nonetheless.
How Bynum would fit the Cavaliers’ offseason roster needs:
Since Cleveland didn’t address their need for a rim-protecting big through the draft this year – and no player on the current roster fits the bill for this long-term need – they’re going to have to look toward free agency or a trade to improve their lethargic and undersized defense. Bigs who can shut down the paint are by no means plentiful in this current day and age of the NBA, and having two of the NBA’s elite centers in the mix of free agency rumors this offseason is a rare sight. The thing is with Howard and Bynum is that they are both liabilities on and off the court. Howard obviously has attitude problems that we saw come to their zenith at the end of his tenure with the Orlando Magic and in (his inevitably short run in) Tinseltown. For a guy who will constantly be banging in the paint with other bigs due to his limited offensive game, his back will always remain a long-term concern. Julius Erving spoke out on why he would not want to have Bynum on his team because he is (and was) “damaged goods.” The Cavs need players on their roster who can actually make it through a whole NBA season with limited time missed, and Bynum is a concern in that area. But for a team that ranked 29th in the league in blocks per game an 22nd in rebounds per game, a player like Bynum, when playing at his best like he did in his final season in Los Angeles, would immediately make Cleveland a contender for a playoff spot in the weaker Eastern Conference. He would fill up that space in the middle that Cleveland passed on fixing when they chose Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall over Alex Len and Nerlens Noel perfectly, but there are too many question marks that leave me wondering if he could even be able to perform this task when suited up in Wine and Gold.
Offer that Cleveland should send Bynum:
Before coming to a decision on a deal that I would pitch Bynum, whether he would accept it or not, I talked with a friend who had to put up with the frustration of watching Bynum grow out crazy hairstyles from the sideline and not see a lick of playing time on the floor. Even though the former Los Angeles big will be looking for a max contract due to the fact that elite and true centers in the League are sparse and that he was once at that level a long year ago, I would not want to lock up a liability like Bynum for more than two years max. A one-year, $10-million guaranteed deal would be the median for what I would gamble on the bowling phenom for. A floor of a two-year deal would be around $18-million deal for me, but I don’t think Bynum’s agent would bite for anything not guaranteed long term. It’s just not worth the risk for the Cavs at this point to try and lock down a player that screwed over a club stuck in a similar situation as the Cavs for a whole season. We can’t taking a risk on something that could be a major setback, and RDE senior writer Chris Manning makes a good point as to why going for a low risk-high reward center in free agency is a much smarter path.
Is it in the best interest of the Cavaliers to sign Bynum?:
As I’ve stated multiple times in this profile, no. Yes, 2011-12 Bynum would perfectly fill a need that the Cavaliers desperately have to get worked out in order to become a well-rounded defensive squad. Cleveland is farrrrrrr away from being a well-rounded defensive club, and Bynum’s skill set would help Cleveland in that are right away. He did get to work with Brown in that 11-12 campaign, but I don’t think there’s a strong enough connection here for Cleveland to work out something favorable without spending a lot this offseason. This isn’t something that Cleveland wants to do yet, as the 2014 free agency class looks a lot more promising. The unrestricted free agent is by far on of the better players available for teams to scoop up this offseason, but it isn’t smart for Cleveland to spend a whole lot on such a headache of a player. Because I don’t think Bynum and his agent will bite on non-blockbuster deals, it’s best for Cleveland to divert their attention to more affordable options.