Larry Bird Refutes Notion Pacers Signed Andrew Bynum to Keep Him from Miami Heat

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2014

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The Indiana Pacers did what no other NBA team would—they took the cheese on Andrew Bynum.

After ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that a signing was close on Jan. 31, the Pacers sealed the deal with Bynum on the morning of Feb. 1.

After a failed experiment with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bynum has found a new home as Roy Hibbert's backup.

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.

Addressing the signing, Bird called the notion that his team signed Bynum to keep him away from the Miami Heat the "dumbest thing I've ever heard."

However, Pacers superstar Paul George seemed to be on the fence about Bynum's addition (via Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star):

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.

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: 

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?

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.


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