Thursday, July 11, 2013

Andrew Bynum to the Cavs. Haven't They Suffered Enough?

Hair Bynum
Oh, Cleveland. You have no idea what kind of pain you're about to endure.

Sure, you think you know pain. There's the going on 50 years of three professional sport action with no championships, with the fourth sport moving away. There's the classic collapses that can be referenced by single words of woe. Your football team left, then stayed in your division and won two rings, usually while punking your perpetual expansion team. There's the whole development of a local kid to be the best basketball player of his generation, only to stab you in the face and go win multiple rings somewhere warm.

But all of that pales in comparison to the horror that is Andrew Bynum.

Today, the Clips signed the Association's biggest waste for what seems to be pennies on the dollar... but that assumes the dollar exists in the first place.

But wait, says Cavaliers Fan! Bynum only makes $6 million guaranteed! 75% of his contract cap is performance based! He's also reunited with Mike Brown, otherwise known as the coach who was in LA for when he got paid! It's just a 2-year deal for a potential double-double center who, when healthy, is a near-certain All-Star!

Um, kids? Andrew's already been paid, and probably still has much of it, in that spending money usually involves some degree of effort. He's going to Cleveland for no reason other than they are offering the most money. The first year is $12 million, the second is a club option. If he does actually show up and play this year, how likely do you think he is to try hard in the second year, for the exact same money, with the clock ticking on those knees and big market teams ready to upgrade after the rust is off? And do you really think that the way to get LeBron James to come back (oh, dear Lord, the Cavs actually think they have a prayer of getting James back) is to load up the roster with head case black holes, when James has just won back to back rings on a team with incessant transition hustle and nonstop ball movement?

This all assumes, by the way, that Bynum is still actually capable of playing in the NBA. I'm really not sure why anyone is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that. His knees are made of sawdust, and his heart was questionable even before he had an arduous injury rehab ahead of him. This isn't a situation where rest fixes the problem; this is a situation where retirement fixes the problem. Consider, too, how Dwight Howard's 2012-13 went, and how likely Bynum is to start the year off better.

So let's look at this, Cleveland, for what it is: the savvy move and free agent win... over teams that didn't get in good early. The big prize in the remainder pile. Congrats: you ruled over Dallas, just like everyone else in the past few years. You somehow convinced a guy to not go to Atlanta, who just lost their best player to, um, Detroit. In the immortal words of noted philosopher and fellow big man malcontent Derrick Coleman, Whoop De Damn Doo.

But let's assume that Hair Bynum has some fire in the belly and actually tries this year. He shakes off the rust, pays more attention to hoop than hair, and gives them a reasonably effective big man down the stretch. Maybe Kyrie Irving stays healthy and Dion Walters gets the jump shot down and a little more of an all-around game. They get some push from Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller, useful things from noobs Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark (um, I'm stretching here), and they all buy in to Brown's return. Anthony Bennett, the shock #1 pick from UNLV, is also here, and even in a weak draft, a #1 pick has to help your rotation. There's talent on the roster...

Especially by Eastern standards. The road playoff "contenders" are not exactly stacked with crush teams, especially with the #7 and #9 from last year (Boston and Philly) in full tank mode, and the #8 slot manned by a 38 win Milwaukee team that's losing talent in free agency. 40 wins gets you a first round beatdown, which might sound good to a team that has won 64 games since James left for Miami. (Yes, in three years. One of which was only 66 games long, but still, winning one year of the Heat's season in three can't be very fun.)

So, best case scenario. Bynum helps drag the Cavs up to one and done status. He retards the progress of their young players and "helps" them become a grind and growl team, despite that not really winning in the NBA any more. He, um, inspires the Cleveland bigs to match his conditioning efforts and punk fouls (remember JJ Barea?), and in no way undermines Brown, who he's tangled with before. He gets counting stats and his rep back, but probably struggles hard on defense, especially with more teams going with small / drive and kick / stretch bigs offense. And after showing good faith and a comeback, he gets paid, because you wouldn't want him to mope, right?

Remember, this is the best case. Worst, he spends 2013-14 doing the exact same thing that he did to the Sixers; teasing them with returns, showing up with different clown haircuts, and suffering setback after setback for his oh-so-triumphant return.

Enjoy him, Cleveland Fan!

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