The Cavaliers look at this as an opportunity to add a 25-year-old former All-Star to their roster. Now they’re moving quickly to ensure it happens.
The Cavaliers presented free agent center Andrew Bynum a two-year contract Monday night, including a team option in the second year. Yahoo Sports reported the total pact is worth $24 million, a hefty amount for a player who missed all of last season with problems in both knees.
But the Cavaliers look at his two championship rings and All-Star appearance in 2012 as reason enough to make the gamble. They are pushing for an answer quickly, and most certainly by Wednesday, when the moratorium ends and all new contracts can be signed.
Bynum visited the Cavs’ facility Monday, a league source with knowledge of the meeting confirmed to the Beacon Journal. ESPN reported he also has meetings scheduled this week with the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks. The Mavericks are believed to be the Cavs’ biggest competition for Bynum, particularly since they missed out on Dwight Howard.
Bynum missed all of last season with problems in both knees. He was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee in September and received injections in both September and October. He injured his left knee during a bowling event in November and had surgery in March to clear debris from both knees.
The Cavs have already agreed to terms with free agents Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark. Adding Bynum – presuming he’s healthy – and pairing him with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving would instantly make the Cavs playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has maintained since the draft lottery the goal for next season is returning to the playoffs after wallowing near the bottom of the league each of the last three years.
Bynum played for Cavs coach Mike Brown for one season with the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8). Over his last five healthy seasons, Bynum averaged 14.7 points and 9.5 rebounds.
As expected, Bynum did not work out for the Cavaliers on Monday. But the medical staff was able to examine his knees, a league source told the Beacon Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations.
Bynum was property of the Philadelphia 76ers last season, but didn’t appear in a game. The Cavs were involved in trade discussions for him last summer before he went to the 76ers in a four-team trade that also involved Howard.
Bynum only practiced once with the Sixers, on Feb. 22, and the swelling in his right knee prevented him from stepping on the court again.
In his final media interview on March 1, Bynum said there wasn’t a surgical procedure invented that could guarantee his return to basketball and he said he didn’t want to play in pain.
“I think I’ll be able to play in some form or fashion in the future,” Bynum said then. “I think they are getting close with things to do for articular cartilage. They just grew cartilage in a Petri dish, so I think science is looking at it, doctors are looking at it and this is a serious problem and they’re going to come up with something.”
Bynum made $16.9 million with the Sixers last season.