According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers have made a two-year, $24 million contract offer to Andrew Bynum. The terms are set to be a one-year guaranteed contract with a team option for the second season.
As hefty a price tag as that may be, it's a safe gamble for the Cavaliers to make.
Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 NBA regular season, battling knee issues and leaving the Philadelphia 76ers without their franchise player. Upon becoming a free agent, Yahoo! Sports reported that Bynum would not be working out for teams this offseason.
Per Wojnarowski, however, the Cavaliers met with Bynum and wasted no time in offering him a deal worth an average of $12 million per season.
There's undeniable risk here, as Bynum's knees may not last through the season. With that being said, this contract offer favors the Cavaliers in more ways than one.
It all starts with security.
With Bynum having missed 212 games since 2007-08, every team evaluating his status as a free-agent acquisition will be cautious. With Bynum unlikely to sign on for less than $10 million per season, it's equally as improbable that a team is able to bring him on without a steep financial investment.
It just so happens that the Cavaliers did it in as safe a manner as possible.
If Bynum is able to return to full health and perform at the level expected of him, he'd likely push the Cavaliers into the Eastern Conference playoffs. Should Bynum continue to battle injuries and thus see his availability limited, the Cavaliers would remain where they are today.
Regardless of what happens, this potential contract would ensure that Bynum's future is decided by the team.
The Cavaliers may be paying a pretty penny in 2013-13, but without Bynum, they're far from a title contender. While optimism may surround their youth, this team is at least two years away from being a top team in the Eastern Conference.
Making calculated risks like this is the only way to expedite that process.
Uncertainty at Center
As it presently stands, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a two-man rotation at center with Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller. Zeller was a second-team All-Rookie selection in 2013, while Varejao led the NBA in rebounding through 25 games.
For the third consecutive season, Varejao proceeded to suffer a season-ending injury and miss more than 40 games.
Zeller, meanwhile, is a quality two-way player that was selected No. 17 overall in the 2012 NBA draft. While he displays the potential to be a quality NBA player, there have been no signs that Zeller will develop into a star.
Bynum already is one.
When healthy, Bynum is arguably the most complete center in the NBA, pairing the ability to go for a nightly double-double with a powerful defensive presence. Not only can he score with his back to the basket, but Bynum crashes the boards and works the pick-and-roll quite well.
The only question at this point is simple—do the Cavaliers want to continue trusting their injury-prone center with quality abilities or take a gamble on one with superstar potential that he's already meeting?
Bynum is a franchise player that is more than capable of anchoring an organization for years to come. For the Cavaliers, signing him to a one-year guarantee with a second-year team option is beyond wise.
It's one of the safest gambles they've taken in quite some time.
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