Andrew Bynum has finally landed on another NBA team. This time around, the much-maligned big man will be suiting up for the Indiana Pacers for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. The deal signs Bynum through the rest of the year and will reportedly pay him $1 million for his services over the second half of this season.
Bynum will undoubtedly take over the backup duties at center from Ian Mahinmi behind Roy Hibbert, a huge upgrade at the position. While Mahinmi has put up just three points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 16 minutes per game this season on meager 42.4 percent shooting, Bynum averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 20 minutes per game over his 24 appearances with the Cleveland Cavaliers before being traded and subsequently released.
While adding Bynum helps the Pacers in terms of their depth in talent, it also amps up the pressure on their competition—namely the Miami Heat.
When Bynum became available on the free-agent market, the Heat figured to be major players in trying to sign him in order to give them a reliable true center to combat Hibbert in the postseason. Now that Bynum is on the same team as Hibbert, the Heat seemingly have much of their hopes this season tied into Greg Oden becoming a 20-minute-per-game center once again.
Oden has appeared in only five games this season, which is an accomplishment in itself given his injury history. However, he’s played just 8.4 minutes per game in those five contests and his conditioning is noticeably not where it needs to be if the Heat plan on him being an integral part of their rotation.
As we’ve seen before, the Heat can succeed without a true center in their rotation, but not having a guy like that does make their task against the Pacers more difficult. It’s not live-or-die, but Oden being able to play solid, consistent minutes in their rotation is quite important to them potentially becoming three-peat champions.
No matter if you look at it in terms of how this helps the Pacers with their own rotations or in terms of how the move affects their in-conference competition, Bynum going to Indiana greatly improves the Pacers’ chances of getting over the hump this year.