The Pacers are planning to sign Andrew Bynum, sources told ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 1, 2014
BREAKING: Pacers have signed free agent center Andrew Bynum to a contract for the remainder of the season. More: http://t.co/y2lHT1UW9Q— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 1, 2014
Bynum: “It really wasn’t a hard decision, I think it’s the right fit for me & in all honesty, I think we’ve got the best chance of winning."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 1, 2014
It's a downright shocking signing for a team that has cultivated success through a carefully crafted chemistry when constructing the roster, and there is little doubt this is one of Larry Bird's biggest gambles since he started putting this group together.
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
You can't pass up on a huge talent like that and I expect him to be able to help us if he comes in with an attitude to buy into our program
But with him, it's 'ifs' because he's been through so many programs in the early stage (of his career). Whether he wants to stay committed to us is … a big gamble on our behalf.
Both Bird and Bynum sound optimistic that the newfound marriage will work, but it's hard to take either at his word in this case.
Bynum has had several chances.
Bird, on impact to chemistry: "The way these guys roll around here, I think they can handle themselves. They control their own locker room."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 1, 2014
He played his way out of Philadelphia without ever stepping on the floor, he was suspended indefinitely by the Cavs before being traded to the Chicago Bulls earlier this season, and now he takes his talents and all of the baggage that comes with him to a team that prides itself on its camaraderie and chemistry.
ESPN's Arash Markazi articulated the issue with Bynum:
Bynum may be "low risk-high reward" but he's been a free agent for 3 weeks after being waived and only one team brought him in. Says a lot.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 1, 2014
If motivated, Bynum could be a huge addition for a team that is clearly going all-in to win the title in 2014.
However, the questions surrounding Bynum remain the same. Will he be motivated? Can he stay healthy?
The Pacers gave Andrew Bynum $1 million for the rest of season from their mid-level exception, according to a source.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 1, 2014
His track record tells us not to be optimistic, but perhaps the winning culture he's struggled to find since being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers is exactly what he needs to find the spark again.
If not, the Pacers could wind up with a malcontent on the roster, with the move creating significant issues for a team that fights for one another every single night.
Will Bynum be the difference-maker the Pacers need to push the team over the top?
Only Bynum himself will be able to give us the answer to that delicate question.