By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
MILWAUKEE: Andrew Bynum is finally ready to play a game in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for the 76ers, he’ll be in a Cavs jersey.
Bynum said Wednesday he plans to play in the Cavs’ game at Philadelphia on Friday, his first game at Wells Fargo Arena since the 76ers traded an All-Star and a first-round pick to obtain him 18 months ago. Knee problems prevented Bynum from ever playing a game for the Sixers, who paid him nearly $17 million to sit on the bench last season and didn’t offer him a new contract.
The failed Bynum trade essentially ignited a full roster rebuild and cost the Sixers two All-Stars — they dealt Andre Iguodala to obtain him, then moved All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday over the summer to start the rebuild. But don’t expect Bynum to feel sorry for the Sixers.
“It wasn’t my choice to get rid of me,” he said. “I don’t feel bad at all. ... If I was not hurt, I would’ve played. That’s really the end to that story.”
Bynum signed with the Cavs as a free agent in July and spent the summer building muscle around his problematic knees. He played on opening night for the Cavs and has steadily increased his minutes through the first few games.
Bynum’s plan all along has been to play on the first night of a back-to-back and rest the second. He isn’t changing that now just because Friday’s game happens to be in Philadelphia. The Cavs return home to host the Sixers on Saturday in a home-and-home, so Bynum will sit out Saturday’s home game.
He is well aware of Philadelphians’ reputation for booing people they don’t like, and after last season’s debacle, Philadelphia doesn’t like Bynum very much these days.
“I think they’ll probably boo, but that’s their choice,” he said.
He is expected to face the Philadelphia media today, when the Cavaliers practice at Temple University, but he insists he won’t be more motivated playing the Sixers.
“It’s just another game,” he said.
Kyrie Irving entered Wednesday’s game at the Bucks averaging 15.3 points, 6.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds. He’s averaging about an assist more per game than last season, but his scoring is down significantly and he’s only shooting 37 percent, down from 45 percent last season.
The Cavs thought entering the season that Irving’s offensive numbers might dip if he bought in defensively and exerted more energy on the defensive end, which he certainly has.
“There’s an adjustment period to go through to still play your same game because you’re exerting a ton of energy on a possession-by-possession basis,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “It affects your legs, body and mind.
“I know in the past if we brought in new guys, especially guys from teams that didn’t defend or ‘losing’ teams, they normally didn’t shoot the ball like they did with their old team because the pressure, or the demands on that end of the floor for us are extremely high. If you don’t do it, you won’t play. It has in the past taken guys out of their comfort zone when it comes to scoring or shooting the ball. I don’t know if that’s specifically the case for Kyrie.”
Irving didn’t seem to agree with that assessment.
“I guess that’s what he sees,” Irving said. “I’m just playing the game. That’s his view on how he sees my offensive numbers coming; that’s strictly his opinion.”
Despite the offensive struggles, Irving’s rebounding numbers are impressive for a point guard. Brown has put an emphasis on the guards rebounding and thus far Irving is delivering because he’s hanging around the perimeter longer than he was last year.
“They’re falling into my lap right now,” he said. “A couple of the air balls are coming right to me, a couple of them are bouncing my way, which I’m happy about. I don’t want to steal rebounds from my bigs, they’re just hopping in my lap right now.”
Michael Redd honored
Former Ohio State star Michael Redd, who enjoyed his best years with the Bucks, was honored Wednesday by the team after his retirement. Redd averaged 19 points per game over 11 seasons. He led the Bucks to the playoffs three times (but never advanced past the first round), made on All-Star team and earned more than $100 million. He also won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2008 Olympics.
“Michael Redd is a good guy,” Brown said. “You’re happy when you see good guys have success in life. He played on a USA team, he won a lot of games, he was an impact player. To have a guy want to retire when he’s ready to retire and have a team or league celebrate it is a good thing. It’s definitely deserving and I’m proud of him.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.