It was a gamble that we all knew that some NBA team was going to take this summer. After not playing a game last year after being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, center Andrew Bynum became an unrestricted free-agent this summer, meaning some team was going to take the risk on the glass-kneed big man. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the team that ended up landing Bynum.
The base terms of Bynum’s deal are pretty hefty as he could earn just under $24.8 million over the next two seasons with Cleveland. However, given his behavioral and injury issues over his career, the Cavs agreed to an incredibly savvy deal with the center with only $6 million guaranteed for this season and next season being non-guaranteed. If Bynum remains healthy, he’s worth every bit of $12.4 million per year; if he’s a head-case who can’t stay on the floor this year, it won’t cost them too much money.
As it stands right now, Bynum is probably closer to the latter of those two options if you’re keeping score. After reports recently came out that Bynum still hasn’t been cleared for contact, it was reported on Monday by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal that Bynum was running on a treadmill, but still hasn’t been cleared for contact.
The fact that Bynum running on a treadmill is any kind of news doesn’t seem like a good sign to me. He has had over a year to recover and he’s just now running on a treadmill; that seems like something might be permanently wrong going on with Bynum, who has been chronically injured over his career.
In the same tweet from Lloyd, though, it was also said that head coach Mike Brown still has faith that Bynum can return to being an “elite center” at this level. That raised some questions about whether Bynum was ever elite or not, but he was definitely in that upper-tier of centers at one point; whether you call that elite or not is up to you.
Though I think Brown sometimes gets a bad rap as a coach for a variety of reasons, his faith in Bynum seems a bit naïve to me. I have zero doubts about Bynum’s ability as a basketball player when he’s healthy. In contrast, I have heaps upon heaps of doubt about Bynum’s ability to stay healthy, in light of history with injuries and recent news about the big man.
Perhaps I’m wrong for believing that Bynum’s days with Cleveland, and possibly in the NBA, might be numbered. Perhaps he is just taking his recovery seriously and slowly so that he can stay healthy. However, with what we know at this moment, Brown and I aren’t on the same page in terms of the faith we have in Bynum.
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