Playing GM for Potential Andrew Bynum Suitors in 2013 NBA Free Agency
It's now clear that Andrew Bynum's season is over, but his future has never been murkier, as potential suitors have no idea what to think of the big man with busted knees.
Bynum is more than damaged goods at this point. He spent the entire season with the Philadelphia 76ers but didn't play a single game.
While his knee health ebbed and flowed all season long, his immaturity continued to grow, and people became more fed up than anything.
Regardless of Bynum's current situation, teams will look at his 2012 season and think about what he could be again once he recovers from his next knee surgery.
There's already been a murmuring of who could go after the big man and what kind of money he could see in the open market.
The big question: Will Andrew Bynum get max money? Several executives told me it wouldn't surprise them if "a desperate team" offers max.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) March 19, 2013
In order to try to nail spaghetti to the wall, it seems like we should take a look at a few potential suitors and figure out who should go after Bynum, who should stay as far away as possible and what the dude should get paid.
Who Should Chase Him?
There are a ton of teams with cap space this summer, many of whom look at the big-name free agents and lick their chops.
While Chris Paul landing on the open market seems unlikely, there's a chance that one of these outsider teams could land Andrew Bynum and completely change the face of their franchise. Sure, that change could turn them into top-tier playoff teams or salary-cap-ruined idiots, but it could change them nonetheless.
The teams who have stayed financially responsible over the past few seasons, or have turned into responsible teams, will likely consider the same option.
Unless Bynum is a huge bargain, we should be able to rule out the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets and potentially the Orlando Magic. One of those four could pull a fast one and do something rash, but it seems unlikely at this point.
We should look more at teams looking to make a jump who house cap space, teams looking to prevent a collapse and teams looking for a change of pace.
Going further, you can bring up the possibility of a sign-and-trade and include any other team with a few pieces to deal. That's opening up a can of worms.
For the time being, it seems to make the most sense to watch Portland, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia.
What's He Worth?
What is Andrew Bynum worth? The only correct answer is that he's worth less than he's going to get paid.
It will upset people, who will bray at the moon about him landing such a deal, but Bynum getting a contract that makes him one of the 30 highest-paid players in the NBA next season wouldn't be too surprising.
Bynum would be a fair gamble at a price of $11 million or $12 million for a short, two-year contract with some mutual options tacked on at the end depending on his performance. It gives him a chance to prove himself, while letting him know his value.
However, with NBA contracts it always seems to hold true that whatever you believe a player is worth, go ahead and add 25 percent per year to that and throw on an extra year. So when Bynum signs a three- or even four-year deal for $50-60 million, color nobody surprised.
Hell, Kris Humphries landed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets last summer, and all people did was chuckle. If anything, I might be undervaluing Bynum.
Now that we've nailed down the low end of Bynum's money-making capabilities, which teams of those five make the most sense to sign the big man?
5. Portland Trail Blazers
It would take some fancy salary-cap work, but Andrew Bynum would fit in amazingly with this Trail Blazers team.
While LaMarcus Aldridge can space the floor a bit, playing from the high post like Pau Gasol, Bynum would be able to dominate the paint.
A healthy Bynum makes the Blazers a dangerous playoff team.
That being said, it might be the worst idea in the history of the NBA to let Portland sign Bynum.
I'm trying to imagine what I would say in a presser if I were in Portland and they signed Bynum. "No, seriously, this is a joke, rght?"— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 19, 2013
"I mean, this is some sort of performance art piece, yes? This is like Joaquin Phoenix's thing, only instead of a hobo, you sign Bynum?"— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 19, 2013
"Did you guys all get drunk and this would be funny? Because it's not. It's just mean, to everyone, really."— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 19, 2013
"No, right I get that HE'S not Bowie or Oden. But, I mean, YOU GUYS are still the ones who brought them on, right?"— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 19, 2013
Seriously, if this happens, the league may actually grant David Stern lifetime commissioner status if he vetoes the signing for basketball reasons.
4. Houston Rockets
I'm still trying to figure out exactly how Andrew Bynum would fit in with the Houston Rockets, and I just don't see it.
Houston has run one of two lineups all year long, either throwing four shooters around Omer Asik or going with a full-on blitz of five offensive weapons on the floor at a time.
The former makes sense for Asik, while the latter makes sense for Bynum, but having the two of them on the floor together and running a fast-paced offense would get murky.
Could Bynum spread the floor? Was his three-point shooting with the Los Angeles Lakers a tryout for this role?
Perhaps they could make it work. If there's a hint of Daryl Morey going after Bynum, I would be hard-pressed to criticize, as he has done the best job of any general manager over the past year.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
There seems to be a lot of damage done when it comes to the relationship between Andrew Bynum and the people of Philadelphia.
He's been a bit of an immature presence on the sidelines for the 76ers, and the fans seem to resent the fact that he has yet to play a minute for their team.
What makes it so hard for me to give up on Bynum as a 76er is how well he would fit in with this team. An offensive presence in the post is exactly what they need, and without one, they've been an incredibly underwhelming team.
Imagine a completely healthy Bynum taking the starting role away from Spencer Hawes and giving Jrue Holiday a teammate to play a two-man game with. Nothing but beauty would ensue.
If the price is right, I would like Philadelphia to give Bynum another chance, but if he gets offered ridiculous money elsewhere, re-signing him would be franchise suicide.
2. Atlanta Hawks
I'm actually all for the Atlanta Hawks giving Andrew Bynum a huge contract. If you're going to gamble, why not gamble big?
Atlanta has Al Horford and Lou Williams under contract next season, and while it can try to go after Dwight Howard (and likely not get him) or even think about re-signing Josh Smith, it seems to have two options.
The Hawks can either cobble a team together through free agency, hope running the team through Horford and Williams works out and end up another low-level playoff team.
Or they can go all in, throw their chips on Bynum and see where the roulette wheel lands. On the off chance that they hit big, along with whatever offseason acquisitions they land, they're among the top teams in the East. If it's a disaster, then go ahead and tear the team apart and start from scratch.
Atlanta floats along in the Eastern Conference, not improving or getting much worse from season to season, and watches as fans yawn at a team that obviously won't win a championship.
If this game is about winning a title, going after Bynum might not be a huge disaster for Atlanta.
1. Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks aren't treading water this season; they're bracing the walls as they await an impending implosion.
What could stop this team's complete destruction? Well, they could get lucky and one of their younger guys could turn into a superstar, but a free-agent acquisition is really the only option that makes sense.
Dallas has the ability to create cap space to sign him this summer, and even more to get him some help the following summer. Basically, the Mavs are in the perfect spot to rebuild their franchise on the fly while never really having a true disaster of a season.
What's most important is facing the fact that Dirk Nowitzki turns 35 this summer and is on the verge of retirement.
Dallas was on Bynum's list of teams he wanted to land on come 2013, so it's not out of the realm of possibilities that he gives it a discount, which would be even more titillating.
Among Bynum's short list of potential free agent landing spots in 2013, Houston is prominent with Dallas and Cleveland, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 8, 2012
Bynum is incredibly risky, but Dallas can either take its chances with him or take another season and put together a borderline playoff team before truly rebuilding in 2014.