The Eastern Conference’s top team just got more imposing.
Saturday, the Indiana Pacers added size and scoring punch to their roster by signing mercurial free agent center Andrew Bynum for the rest of the season. Team officials did not release additional details about the contract and said the former Cavaliers player was expected to join the team sometime this week.
“We are obviously happy to have him join our team,” Larry Bird said in a statement issued by the team before Indiana hosted Brooklyn on Saturday night. He gives us added size, he is a skilled big man and he has championship experience. With the minutes he gets, he should be a valuable addition.”
Adding a player with Bynum’s mercurial reputation to a locker room as selfless as the Pacers’ is definitely a gamble, though likely a low-risk one since Bird, the Pacers president of basketball operations, has made it clear the Pacers would not pay the NBA’s luxury tax and Indiana had an open spot on its roster.
But if Bynum performs as he did in helping the Lakers win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, it could create even more lineup mismatches against two-time defending champion Miami in the East.
LAKERS LOSE GASOL — Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol will miss at least the next week with a strained right groin, the team announced after an MRI exam. Gasol scored 24 points in the Lakers’ 110-100 home loss to Charlotte on Friday, their sixth straight defeat. He has been bothered by a sore groin for several games, but attempted to play through it. The Lakers have been decimated by injuries. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry have all been out for several weeks. The Lakers have lost 18 out of 21 to fall into 14th place in the Western Conference.
INJURED JAZZ — The Utah Jazz are without starting forward Marvin Williams and center Derrick Favors. Favors, who averages 13.5 points and a team-leading 9.5 rebounds, is struggling with a strained hip. Williams had surgery on his right heel and Achilles tendon in the offseason.
AROUND THE LEAGUE — Adam Silver has become the NBA’s fifth commissioner. The NBA posted a picture on its Twitter account Saturday of Silver holding a basketball and shaking hands with outgoing commissioner David Stern. ... The Utah Jazz honored former coach Jerry Sloan by raising a banner featuring the number “1,223,” signifying the number of regular-season and playoff wins he had during 23 years as Utah coach from 1988-2011. ...The Dallas Mavericks are sending first-round pick Shane Larkin to the NBA Development League for what is likely to be a one-game stint. The rookie point guard’s playing time has dropped since veteran Devin Harris made his debut seven games ago after offseason toe surgery. ... The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Cartier Martin to a 10-day contract.