Best Potential Landing Spots for Andrew Bynum to Resume NBA Career

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

Best Potential Landing Spots for Andrew Bynum to Resume NBA Career

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    Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

    Andrew Bynum's NBA career is not over. 

    Although he's been on an unrelenting downward spiral ever since he was traded away from the Los Angeles Lakers in August 2012, he's still a 7-footer with plenty of talent. We're not that far removed from his 2012 All-Star appearance, after all.

    Unfortunately, Bynum's career has proceeded in rather strange fashion since then.

    The big man failed to record even a single second of action while he was with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2012-13 season. He then signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 offseason, but failed to make much of an impact in his new home, was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and was subsequently put on the trading block.

    After the Cavs traded Bynum and three future draft picks for Luol Deng, the Chicago Bulls took only a few hours to officially waive him, per the team's website. 

    Now, Bynum hits the open market once more, but he isn't exactly an attractive addition. He comes rife with question marks and red flags, especially after Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he didn't even like playing basketball. 

    But that won't stop a team from offering him a minimum contract and allowing him to take the first step in the process toward redemption. 

    These are the five teams that have already emerged as the best potential landing spots, but keep in mind that they're ranked from Bynum's perspective. Team needs don't matter too much, as it's all about him putting himself in the best situation to further his career. 

5. New York Knicks

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    Please, for the love of everything that is good and pleasant, do not let this happen. 

    The only reason the New York Knicks are being included is the unfortunate fact that they've been mentioned as a potential destination for Bynum by a reputable reporter. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, "The Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks are among the teams expected to consider offering him a landing spot."

    But beyond that, this makes absolutely no sense. 

    Bynum needs a place where he can fly under the radar as he resumes his career. And if that's not going to happen—which it probably won't in this era of 24/7 coverage—he needs a landing spot where the fans won't expect him to contribute right away. 

    Does that sound like Knicks fans to you?

    If Bynum joined the struggling New York squad, he'd be immediately hailed as the potential savior, the man who was going to help turn around this miserable 2013-14 campaign. Even if he wasn't going to play major minutes, he'd be seen as a sign of hope. 

    That's the last thing he needs. 

    Bynum in New York would lead to a messy end, and that could very well be the final stop of the big man's NBA career. 

Wingspan-Sized Gap

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    David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

    Andrew Bynum isn't even holding up his arms here, but you can see how long they are. 

    That's about how far a gap there is between the New York Knicks and the rest of the teams featured here. While going to Madison Square Garden would be a terrible decision for the rest of his career, each of the remaining four squads would actually offer him an opportunity to get his NBA life back on track. 

    Yes, New York is No. 5. 

    Yes, the next team will be No. 4. 

    But for all intents and purposes, the Knicks might as well be coming in at No. 30. 

4. Golden State Warriors

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    The sense of this move depends largely on the health of Jermaine O'Neal. 

    Brought in over the offseason to provide depth behind the injury-prone Andrew Bogut and David "I Don't Believe in Defense" Lee, O'Neal hasn't been able to make much of an impact for the Golden State Warriors. 

    In fact, he's played in only 17 games, averaging 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. That was before arthroscopic surgery knocked him out of the lineup, a malady from which there still isn't a given return date. 

    O'Neal promised Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle that he'd return this season, but that's still far from a guarantee. And that's why Andrew Bynum fits in quite nicely as an insurance policy. 

    The Dubs already have a starting center who's playing like a defensive monster. They're already winning games and boasting one of the better defensive units in the NBA. 

    Bynum would be the gravy on top. The icing on the proverbial cupcake. 

    That said, there's one key point keeping him from rising any higher in the rankings of potential destinations. Bynum just wouldn't get to play that much, as Bogut is in place and the Dubs love playing small ball with Lee at center. 

3. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    The Portland Trail Blazers have risen up to the top of the Western Conference, but they're still far from perfect. 

    This is a team boasting a bench that—while improved—is still one of the worst units in the NBA. According to Hoopsstats.com, Rip City's second and third units are averaging 23.9 points per game, better than only the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. They also rank No. 21 in points allowed per minute, so that's not a very good combination. 

    On top of that, the Blazers allow a lot of points in the paint. Only seven teams in the NBA permit opponents to make at least half of their attempts in that zone, and Portland is one of them. 

    Bynum would help with both of those weaknesses.

    Though he certainly wouldn't take over for Robin Lopez in the starting lineup—the long-haired center is in the midst of one heckuva season—he'd still be able to play solid minutes on a bench that doesn't feature many established big men. 

    Even in his declined state, it's hard to imagine Bynum failing to beat out Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard in the pecking order at center. 

2. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    The Los Angeles Clippers had started to morph into a two-way juggernaut before Chris Paul went down against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 3. 

    Now, they rank No. 7 in both offensive and defensive rating, according to Basketball-Reference. That latter stat should leave you scratching your head and wondering how brilliant Doc Rivers is when it comes to developing defensive schemes, as he isn't working with much frontcourt talent. 

    DeAndre Jordan is slowly coming around, asserting himself as a plus defender at center. But Blake Griffin is still mediocre, and the backups don't help out much. 

    So, if Rivers is squeezing a top-10 unit out of this roster, what could he do with Andrew Bynum coming off the bench? 

    Bynum would have an opportunity to play for a title-contending team if he joined the Clippers. He'd get playing time ahead of Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins once he worked his way back into shape and he'd help out a defense that is already milking its limited talent for as much as it's worth. And then some. 

    Only a perfect fit could supplant the Clippers. Fortunately for the troubled big man, we have one of those. 

1. Miami Heat

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    We've been down this road before. 

    The Miami Heat have the luxury of rostering LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, so they can afford to take plenty of chances on reclamation projects. It's why we've seen them sign Michael Beasley, Greg Oden, Rashard Lewis and others. 

    And as B/R's Ethan Skolnick recently wrote, they're working out: 

    Pat Riley keeps scooping those players off the NBA's buffet, and they're all leaving a pleasant taste; well, all but the one (Greg Oden) still stashed in the freezer. Lewis, Michael Beasley, Chris Andersen and Roger Mason, Jr., are due to earn a combined $5.1 million this season, if Beasley and Mason stick around past the Jan. 7 guarantee deadline.

    And all of them, in one way or another, have allowed Erik Spoelstra greater flexibility to mix, match and rest, as he tries to get a veteran roster to the games that most matter, in the best possible shape.

    Not only would Andrew Bynum be the latest project, but he'd fill a significant void. The Heat still don't rebound particularly well, and they're limited when it comes to the number of big men they can throw out against a dominant center. 

    You know, one like Roy Hibbert

    Bynum could literally spend his 2013-14 campaign preparing for the inevitable clash with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami wouldn't need him to do anything else between now and then, as he'd be a true luxury item. 

    Without experiencing any pressure, Bynum could land on a title contender that has already earned rings for players like Juwan Howard. And he could fill a need.

    It doesn't get any better than that.