Andrew Bynum to Cavaliers: Cleveland Signs Star Center to 2-Year Deal

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2013

The most polarizing big man on the NBA market not named Dwight Howard has found a new home.

According to a report by ESPN's Chris Broussard, Andrew Bynum and the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a deal on Wednesday:

FOX Sports' Sam Amico confirmed the report:

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski shared some additional details on the deal:

The 25-year-old center spent last season with the Philadelphia 76ers after being acquired as a major piece of the Dwight Howard deal. Philadelphia sent out a king's-ransom package of franchise-face Andre Iguodala, promising young center Nikola Vucevic and first-round pick Moe Harkless to land Bynum and Jason Richardson.

At Bynum's introductory press conference, the center told Fox Sports' Sam Amico that he felt ready to roll. 


At the time, the move was a gamble nearly everyone agreed the Sixers should have made. By the end of the season, however, everyone just wanted the nightmare to end.   

When he's on the floor, Bynum is among the most dominant forces in the entire NBA. He's a two-way menace that was possibly on the precipice of becoming the league's best center. Bynum's ascent to superstardom in 2011-12 saw the seven-footer score 18.7 points, grab 11.8 rebounds and block 1.9 shots a night while flashing a varied post skill set and an underrated mean streak defensively.

The Lakers, a team that won 62.1 percent of their games en route to being the third seed in the West, were actually outscored with Bynum on the bench, per Bynum was seen as the type of player who could change the entire culture of a Sixers franchise that had peaked as a bottom-half playoff team.

The problem was the Sixers never got to find out. Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 regular season while dealing with knee issues, exposing the two major flaws in his superstar arsenal: immaturity and injury propensity.

Philadelphia knew about both when acquiring Bynum. The mercurial star's time in Los Angeles was mired in temper tantrums, both minor and major. Those transgressions included being suspended for a WWE-style clothesline of J.J. Barea and taking ill-advised threes in the middle of a competitive game. 

His career with the Lakers had also been injury-riddled, having played a full NBA season just once in seven pre-Philly campaigns. Knee injuries overwhelmingly have been the bane of Bynum's NBA existence. 

But the maturity and injury issues had never been at the forefront as much as they were last season. Bynum's 2012-13 campaign was halted before it began, a three-week injury morphing into knee degeneration and culminating with season-ending surgery. Oh, and somewhere along the way there was an ill-fated trip to a bowling alley with friends.

There are already red flags surfacing for the Cavs, as a report from Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer states that Bynum is probably going to be a little rusty, if his agent is to be believed. 

Per that report: 

Questions still remain about Bynum's knees -- "It's not a slam dunk," one league executive said -- and even moreso about his heart, according to a league source. Bynum missed his only season in Philadelphia because of what first was a bone bruise, and later was a knee injury suffered while bowling. Since undergoing surgery on his knees in March, Bynum has gained about 15 pounds, Lee said.

Lee said he expects Bynum to be ready to play by the start of training camp -- even though he wouldn't permit his client to work out for teams.

"Actually, there was no reason to have him work out," Lee said. "His skill level's not in question, so there's no reason to work out. The reality is he has not picked up the ball in some time and he has to get his weight down. He's got to lose probably about 15 pounds, which is not a big deal. But to get on the floor you've got to reduce your weight, otherwise you risk injury."

Bynum's time with the Sixers was more notable for his hair style than on-court dominance. Philadelphia cratered offensively while waiting for Bynum to make his debut and the team finished well outside the Eastern Conference playoff chase. 

In other words, it took just 82 games for Andrew Bynum to morph from "worth the risk" to "loaded question." 

If Bynum bucks history, stays on the court and becomes the latest poster boy of the late-20s maturity influx, the Cavs could have found the biggest steal of the free-agency period. However, as the Sixers found out last season, Bynum's baggage has an ugly underbelly—a minefield Cleveland will look to navigate for the duration of this deal.

Folks will spend an awful lot of time discussing this deal in the coming days. Only this time, it's impossible to tell whether the risk is worth the reward.