Since being a key cog for the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers title run, Andrew Bynum has been on as unique an NBA odyssey as we’ve ever seen. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning – when the sports world was still on Florida State/Auburn high – his journey began its next chapter. Bynum has been traded, along with several protected draft picks, by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.
Chicago won’t be Bynum’s last stop this season either. He is most likely going to be released by the Bulls before his contract becomes guaranteed at 5 p.m. today. By trading Deng and waiving Bynum, the Bulls will save $15M in salary and luxury taxes during their second consecutive lost season. The move will likely be the beginning of the end of their season, as they look to jump into the lottery of a draft with several potential franchise players. With the East as bad as it is, it may require a few more moves (maybe amnesty Carlos Boozer?) and “injuries,” but the intent is clear – the Bulls are looking towards the future.*
For the Cavs, they are acquiring a former All-Star who instantly becomes their second best player on what has been one of the most disappointing teams of the season. The Cavs were a favorite as a breakout squad this year, but find themselves at 11-23, 13th in the conference, below the equally disappointing Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks and just one game above the dreadful Milwaukee Bucks.
How Deng fits on this Cleveland team remains to be seen. If you’ve seen them play at all this season you know Mike Brown’s “offense” has been a travesty and this team has failed to forge any kind of identity or preferred style of play. In an especially weak conference, they could find themselves sneaking into the playoffs, but for what? To lose in four games to the Pacers or Heat (although, Miami finishing up a sweep in Cleveland would be fun) and miss out on the lottery of a draft so loaded that Chicago gifted them Deng for nothing but cap space?
Bynum surprised many by playing on opening night for the Cavs, scoring just two points in seven minutes. His return was seen as pleasant surprise and another sign of the Cavs breakout potential in the East. However, his season thus far has been a far cry from what he gave the Lakers during his peak. Whatever reason one choses to believe – be it a lost desire to play or sleeping with a coaches wife – Bynum is no longer a Cavalier and his time there will be forgotten fast.
But at 7’1″, with his post game and rim protection, Bynum remains a valuable asset for contenders in need of size, and has reportedly expressed that he is willing to play for either the Los Angeles Clippers or Miami Heat. And both have expressed mutual interest. If he can find his “desire to play” again, Bynum, even at his diminished state, can be a game changer in the either conference, especially in the East. Even if Roy Hibbert welcomes it, a healthy and motivated Andrew Bynum would push the Heat a notch above the surging Pacers in the East.
So, what number do you think Bynum is going to wear in Miami?
– Adrian Wojnarowski revealed Deng allegedly rejecting a Bulls offer of three years, $30M was the “prelude to the trade.”