Saturday morning, the unfortunate news came down that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be suspending maligned center Andrew Bynum “indefinitely”, citing conduct detrimental to the team. Bynum, in the first year of a two-year, incentive-laden deal with the Cavs, is averaging 8.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 20 minutes per game.
According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, the Cavaliers are “determined” to trade the disgruntled center, and the team has “no intention” of ever having him play another game for them. Bynum was reportedly disruptive in the team’s locker room, and complained that teammates like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters would hog the ball rather than feed him in the post. His relationship with the organization has continued to sour, coming to a head with this suspension.
Sam Amick of USA Today tweeted Saturday that the Clippers would have interest in bringing Bynum back to Los Angeles if the Cavs were to release him. Bynum spent the first seven years of his career with the Lakers prior to being dealt to Philadelphia prior to last season as a part of the Dwight Howard trade. If Cleveland is unable to find a willing trade partner, they could just buy-out his contract. If he’s waived prior to January 7, only $6M of his deal becomes guaranteed.
One of the Clippers’ primary weaknesses this season is their lack of depth in the frontcourt. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are enjoying stellar individual seasons, but their backups, Ryan Hollins, Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens, leave MUCH to be desired. There was word earlier in December regarding the team’s interest in bringing back Lamar Odom, but if the last two years are any indication, Odom won’t have much of an impact if he’s picked up.
The Clippers signed veteran forward Stephen Jackson earlier in December, with the hope that he could come in and help out by playing some small ball power forward. He’s appeared in six games thus far with minimal impact.
The major question regarding Bynum (other than his sketchy health history) is his desire to even play. As a free agent this past offseason, several teams met with the center and came away unconvinced that he even wants to play basketball anymore. He’s still just 26, but has missed games due to injury in every season since the 2006-07 season. He missed all of last season with a knee injury.
Would Bynum be able to help the Clippers if he were mentally invested? There’s no doubt. Despite the limited minutes, he’s been extremely productive for the Cavaliers in his time on the floor this season, and is one of very few centers in the league with a dependable back-to-the-basket offensive game. The defense of L.A.’s bench unit has been miserable so far this season, as none of Hollins, Mullens or Jamison offers any rim protection whatsoever. Bynum isn’t exactly Serge Ibaka when it comes to shot-blocking, but his mammoth size clogging the paint complicates things for opponents, nevertheless.
He wouldn’t have to play big minutes with the Clippers, of course, as Jordan has done a nice job of staying out of foul trouble thus far. Bynum would offer a boost on both ends of the floor for a second unit sorely in need of one.
Would interjecting a volatile personality like Bynum into the Clipper locker room have a negative effect? Potentially. Then again, Hollins, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson aren’t exactly saints themselves, and they haven’t hurt anything regarding the team’s chemistry, as far as we know. Perhaps Bynum is just unhappy with how awful the Cavaliers are, and coming to a winner would help him “find that joy” he was reportedly seeking earlier in the year.
Stay tuned for what happens next with Bynum. If he were to make his way back to L.A., the Clippers wouldn’t need him to be the All Star-caliber player he was for the Lakers back in 2011. Any incarnation of Andrew Bynum would be an upgrade over what they’re currently running out there off the bench.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.