The Cavaliers were pushing Andrew Bynum for a quick response to their two-year offer, but they may have to wait on him longer than expected.
After visiting the Cavaliers’ facility on Monday, Bynum visited with the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday and will meet with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, his agent, David Lee, told the Akron Beacon Journal. While reports surfaced early Tuesday morning that Bynum could make a decision by the end of the day, Lee said there is no timetable and was vague when asked if it will be made this week.
“It might be, but it’s hard to say,” Lee said. He wouldn’t get into specifics of the visits in Cleveland or Atlanta and wouldn’t disclose what the Hawks offered.
“It’s ongoing discussions and I’d prefer they stay private among the parties,” he said.
Ideally, the Cavaliers would’ve liked a decision by today, when the NBA's moratorium ends and free agents are allowed to sign with their new teams. The Cavs are expected to finalize their contracts with free agents Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark today, and adding Bynum to the list would’ve made it a blockbuster day.
That, however, seems unlikely now.
The Cavs made Bynum a two-year offer, with the second year being a team option. Yahoo Sports reported the total value to be $24 million should he meet some incentives. The Hawks have more cap space than the Mavericks, who will have to dump salary to match what the Cavs are offering or work a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Just because the Cavs can offer the most money, however, hardly secures them the deal. The Cavs historically have struggled to attract marquee free agents despite often overpaying. In fact, with an All-Star appearance and two championship rings to his name, Bynum would immediately become the highest profile free agent to choose the Cavaliers in their 43-year history.
The grand plan in all of this, of course, is to secure Bynum while also protecting enough cap space to sign another free agent to a maximum contract next summer. LeBron James can become a free agent next summer, and the Cavs should have enough cap space to sign Bynum and still get James next summer if he chooses to return.
It would take some cap finagling, and likely include the departure of Anderson Varejao, but the Cavs have spent three years protecting their cap flexibility and wouldn’t destroy it now with the 2014 free agent crop now just 12 months away.
In the meantime, Bynum would immediately make the Cavaliers a playoff contender in the East. The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls (with a healthy Derrick Rose), Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers would have to be considered better teams, but the bottom half of the playoff bracket will be wide open for the Cavaliers should they land Bynum and he stay healthy.
Of course, given that he missed all of last season with problems to both knees, that remains an enormous ‘if.’ But the Cavs remain confident Bynum will return to the court this season and are gambling that he could eventually return to the player he was two seasons ago, when he averaged career highs of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds under now-Cavaliers coach Mike Brown.
For now, however, they wait.