Cavs center Andrew Bynum said all the right things at his introductory press conference Friday at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
But what was most impressive from the 7-foot former Los Angeles Lakers center was his imposing physical presence, even as he wore a golf shirt and dark slacks.
Weighing most heavily on fans’ minds is Bynum's physical condition. Bynum sat out all of last year with the Philadelphia 76ers with bone bruises and cartilage problems in both knees, which required surgery on March 19. Bynum signed a two-year contract that could pay him up to $24 million, but will cost the Cavs just $6 million guaranteed.
Bynum said he weighs “about 305,” and hopes to get down into the 280s for his playing weight. He doesn’t believe dropping about 20 pounds will be a problem and said he will be ready for training camp in October.
“I want to play a full season,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind I can do that. Yes, I’ll be ready (for camp). That’s the plan.”
Bynum lamented the fact that the practice court in Independence is being refinished, delaying the start of his until next week. Cavs general manager Chris Grant said Bynum has already moved to Cleveland.
“The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have done an amazing job pulling together many groups, many parts of their organization to put Andrew in the best position to succeed,” Grant said. “Andrew's in a different place right now, he's excited to move forward. We're all aware of what his injuries have been. He's well aware of that, taken ownership of the process. We're going to do everything we possibly can to put him in a position to succeed.”
As for those who have slammed his work ethic, Bynum agreed with the suggestion that was unfair.
“Completely. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am,” he said. “I’ve had injuries in the past. There’s a lot to be said for people who think that way. But if you get to know me, if you look at how hard I’ve worked to get where I am now, that’s kind of nonsense.”
The 25-year-old who spent his first seven seasons with the Lakers seemed energized by the youth on the Cavs’ roster.
“This is definitely a playoff team. We have the talent, we have new additions, we have Jarrett Jack, we have Earl Clark, who had a phenomenal year last year. I can’t wait to play with Anderson (Varejao), honestly. He brings a kind of energy and passion to the game, I really haven’t been around that. Obviously I played with Kobe (Bryant), but just from a guy who’s willing to sacrifice everything for the team. I think that goes leaps and bounds inside the locker room. I’m really excited about this roster … we have an opportunity to go far.
“We have an opportunity to all rise together and do something special.”
Bynum also raved about point guard Kyrie Irving, which indirectly reflected on his former Lakers teammates.
"Obviously Kyrie's talent is world renowned," Bynum said. "Not having had the opportunity to play with a point guard, a great 1-5 combination is always a key in this game that we play. I'm really looking forward to that."