Andrew Bynum, a free agent since being released by the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 7, has signed a contract with the Indiana Pacers. The team confirmed the signing on Saturday morning via its official website:
The Indiana Pacers announced Saturday they have signed free agent center Andrew Bynum to a contract for the remainder of the season. Per team policy, no terms were released.
“We are obviously happy to have him join our team,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “He gives us added size, he is a skilled big man and he has championship experience. With the minutes he gets, he should be a valuable addition.”
Bynum will join the Pacers sometime next week.
“It really wasn’t a hard decision, I think it’s the right fit for me and, in all honesty, I think we’ve got the best chance of winning,” said Bynum. “It will be great to back up Roy and I’ll do whatever I can to help this team.”
Sam Amick of USA Today reported the terms of agreement:
For those wondering, I'm told Andrew Bynum will be paid $1 million for his Pacers deal that runs through the rest of the season.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 1, 2014
Meanwhile, Pacers president Larry Bird talked about the reasoning behind the decision to sign the oft-injured center, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
Bird on perception he signed Bynum to keep him away from Heat: "That's about the dumbest thing I ever heard. We dont have money like that."— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) February 1, 2014
New York Post reporter Tim Bontemps supplies Frank Vogel's thoughts on the signing:
Frank Vogel on the Pacers signing Andrew Bynum: "There’s a potential to add an All-Star level player."— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 1, 2014
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports previously reported the Pacers were going to sign Bynum:
Barring an unforeseen snag, Indiana will sign free agent center Andrew Bynum today, sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 1, 2014
Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star noted the oft-injured big man hasn't reached an agreement with the team, but he and his agent are in Indianapolis to discuss terms of a deal:
Bynum’s agent David Lee told The Indianapolis Star that he and Bynum were in town. According to Lee, Bynum and the Pacers have not reached a contractual agreement.
“(Bynum) has not signed as yet,” Lee said on Friday night.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst also reported the Pacers "are planning to sign Andrew Bynum":
The Pacers are planning to sign Andrew Bynum, sources told ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 1, 2014
Indy Star first reported Bynum & Pacers were meeting tonight. There is no deal in place as of yet but talks are serious, sources said.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 1, 2014
Bynum has not played much at all since the 2011-12 season.
Not long after a career year with the Los Angeles Lakers, which included being named the starting pivot for the Western Conference in the 2012 All-Star Game, the 26-year-old was dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the Dwight Howard four-team trade.
He subsequently missed the entire 2012-13 campaign with various knee issues and hit free agency after his contract expired following the season.
Will Bynum play well for his new team?
Indiana’s potential acquisition would make this the third transaction involving the center since July, when the Cleveland Cavaliers first inked Bynum to a two-year, incentive-laden deal.
After failing to live up to expectations and eventually being suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team,” the former All-Star was traded, along with three draft picks, to Chicago in exchange for Luol Deng.
The 7-footer averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 24 games for the Cavs prior to being dealt. He had a number of suitors after being released, a group that included the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
The Heat remain in the hunt to sign Bynum, but Windhorst and Chris Broussard reported on ESPN that Miami would only offer the veteran's minimum:
Bynum has been in talks with five teams, including the Miami Heat, sources said. The Heat, however, do not have a roster spot available and only have been willing to offer Bynum a contract at the veteran's minimum.
The Heat have their entire $5 million mid-level exception to use but are scheduled to pay more than $15 million in luxury taxes and would have to pay a penalty of $2.50 per dollar they gave to Bynum if they were not able to trade a player to offload some salary and open roster space.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports discovered that Bynum’s already questionable passion for basketball may be dwindling and that it was a large reason for his suspension in late December.
About Bynum suspension, league source tells Yahoo: "He doesn't want to play basketball anymore. He never liked it that much in first place."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 28, 2013
While Bynum won two championships with the Lakers early in his career, the eight-year veteran has struggled with injuries and inconsistency. The Pacers must believe that head coach Frank Vogel will be able light a fire under the much-maligned big man and help get his career back on track after a tumultuous two years.
It’s a long shot, as Bynum may just be banking another check after collecting $6 million from the Cavs and $16.9 million from the Sixers. It seems we will find out soon enough, if he indeed suits up in the navy and gold.