BOSTON: Andrew Bynum has been suspended by the Cavaliers for conduct detrimental to the team and excused from all team activities. He did not travel with the team to Boston for today’s game against the Celtics and is unlikely to play in Sunday’s game against the Golden State Warriors.
It is realistic at this point to believe Bynum has played his last game for the Cavaliers.
Bynum has talked about retirement and how he has lost the joy to play basketball since the start of the season, now there are those in the organization questioning whether or not he wants to play anymore.
“It’s just a terrible situation internally with our team,” Kyrie Irving said. “It’s just something we have to get over.”
Bynum was always viewed as a bit of a loner within the Cavs’ locker room. He kept to himself, typically spent pregames with his headphones on and rarely interacted with teammates. Players said Saturday that Bynum had been even more withdrawn in recent weeks and weren’t surprised with the decision.
There was an incident at practice Friday that “was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” one league source said, but wouldn’t divulge what happened because it was simply a continuation of a behavioral pattern that had been ongoing for weeks.
Bynum’s attitude has eroded in recent weeks, sources said, and the Cavs didn’t want it infiltrating the rest of the team if he wasn’t fully committed mentally. They knew there was risk involved when they signed him – the Cavs were the only team to offer him the chance at a hefty salary – and now they’re moving on without him.
Bynum signed a partially guaranteed contract last summer that only guarantees him about $6.5 million this season. If the Cavs can trade or release him prior to Jan. 7, when all contracts become guaranteed, they can create additional cap flexibility. He has an attractive contract because it’s only partially guaranteed, meaning a team that traded for him could waive him and save about $6 million on their cap.
Mike Brown has been Bynum’s biggest supporter since signing him. As Bynum struggled to find his touch and spoke about retirement and losing the joy to play in early November, Brown responded with a sharp, “Hell (expletive) yes” when asked if all of these struggles to incorporate him into the team were worth it.
As Bynum’s numbers lagged, Brown said the rest of the team just didn’t know how to use him effectively and how to get him the ball properly in the post. But Brown subtly shifted the focus in recent days away from the rest of the players and onto Bynum, particularly after he missed all 11 of his attempts in a bad loss to the Pistons last week.
“Bynum has been up and down,” Brown said a couple days later. “Sometimes his down has been because we can’t get him the ball. But we have ways now we’ve figured out to get him the ball, now it’s a matter of him producing.”
Brown didn’t want to address Bynum’s future with the organization prior to Saturday’s game, saying only the suspension is indefinite.
“I’m not trying to be funny, but everyone knows what indefinite means,” he said.
Bynum struggled defending Al Horford in Thursday’s double-overtime loss to the Hawks and was pulled early in the third quarter. He sat the rest of the game, including both overtimes, even though Horford was out of the game with a shoulder injury. He was dressed and out of the locker room Thursday before reporters entered. He practiced Friday, but again was off the court before reporters were allowed in.
As the rest of the players headed onto the court for pregame introductions against the Hawks, Bynum was in general manager Chris Grant’s office adjacent the team locker room at Quicken Loans Arena. He departed the office and stormed into the weight room before eventually making his way to the court.
Irving wouldn’t say if he was disappointed in Bynum or if he agreed with the suspension. He simply kept reiterating that it was a management decision.
“He’s going to be missed,” Irving said, “but he has a few things he needs to address for himself before he comes back with the team.”
At this point, Bynum ever playing for the Cavs again seems highly unlikely.