The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to a 2 year contract with Andrew Bynum worth up to $24 million (The words “up to” are very important in this scenario. Because the second year is a team option, only $6 million of the first year is guaranteed, and the rest is incentive-laden). When I first heard rumblings of the Cavaliers entertaining the idea of signing Bynum, I thought it was wishful thinking. I mean what all-star free agent would want to sign in Cleveland? In the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise they have never signed an all-star caliber player in the prime. The closest thing they have had is Larry Hughes, a very out of shape and rotund Shawn Kemp, and a washed up Shaquille O’Neil. So I thought there was no way they would get Bynum. However as things progressed it became clear that the Cavaliers would be able to pay him more than any other team. As soon as those reports surfaced, a shiver had to go down the spine of every Cleveland sports fan. The type of shiver that said, “What the hell are they about to do? For two summers we’ve been accumulating cap-room for a guy that is more interested in bowling and growing his hair than playing basketball!” Then the terms of the deal began to surfaced, and that shiver began to smile, and ask the question, “You mean we’re really going to do this?”
“Yes we did just do this!”
The signing of Andrew Bynum has two layers
Layer 1: IFF Andrew Bynum is healthy for 50 games this year
Bynum makes the Cavaliers a legitimate Eastern Conference team. Not only will he take pressure off of Kyrie Irving offensively, but he also solidifies the Cavaliers paint. They have gone from a young questionable front line, to the biggest and possibly the most skilled front line in the NBA (For all of you who don’t believe me, take notes: Tristan Thompson 6’9″, Tyler Zeller 7’1″, Earl Clark 6’10”, Anderson Varejão 6’11”, Anthony Bennett 6’8″, and Andrew Bynum 7’1″ now eat it). The Cavaliers went from a fringe playoff contender to a team that will definitely make the playoffs, and if Bynum is healthy in the playoffs, they should win a first round series (I’m tempted to go all Dan Gilbert in Comic Sans and guarantee a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, but I don’t want to jinx it).
Layer 2: The Cleveland Cavaliers have legitimized their organization
Historically cold weather cities haven’t been able to lure free agents in the NBA. There have been some exceptions to that rule, but for the most part free agents go south and west. One city that has definitely not been an exception is Cleveland. They couldn’t lure a free agent with a bag of unmarked bills and that girl from The Way You Move video…until now.
The signing of Bynum means more than a basketball player on the court. This signing signifies a turning point for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are no longer the organization that was spurned by LeBron James and the decision. No longer are they the team with the crazy owner, that goes all Comic Sans when a player leaves his team. No longer are they the pitiful franchise that is forced to rebuild every 3 years. They are the organization that is willing to do whatever it takes to win. They are not the team that no one wants to play for. They are now the team that can lure free agents, and is no longer forced to pick from the bottom of the barrel. So, no matter what happens with Andrew Bynum, he has already given the Cleveland cavaliers the validation they so desperately needed.
Reasonably I think you can expect Bynum to play a good amount of games this year. The Cavaliers should get a motivate Andrew Bynum, whose goal is to prove he doubters wrong. Now whether or not he will be healthy by the end of the season is a different question. He is a 25 year old, seven footer, with arthritic knees. I would say that’s a bad combination, but I think any reasonable person knows that. So if we know that, than the Cavs have to know that. So why are they taking this risk? I would like to think that I broke down why they would do it, but there is one thing I left out.
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Follow Kortney Williams on Twitter @kortneyshane