The Indiana Pacers have decided to take a low risk gamble and sign former All-Star center Andrew Bynum to a $1 million contract that will extend until the end of the season. Bynum will back up the team’s current All-Star center Roy Hibbert. Many are seeing this as a sign of the Pacers trying to keep Bynum away from their biggest competition in the East, the Miami Heat.
Miami was linked to having potential interest in the oft-injured big man, but with Greg Oden (already a project center) on the roster and all fifteen spots currently filled, the need for Bynum was ultimately deemed unnecessary. Miami will most likely look for an athletic wing player before the trade deadline to bolster their backcourt. With this signing, the Pacers have arguably one of the best frontcourts in the NBA, and this could be a potential problem for the defending champs come playoff time.
Miami tends to do the most damage against the Pacers when Hibbert is on the bench. Not having Hibbert’s size patrolling the rim allows Miami to attack it with more comfort and ease. Bynum not only has the size to defend around the rim, but he also has a great offensive touch when he is locked in and not injured. During the 2006-07 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bynum averaged 7.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 21 minutes of play. If Bynum is able to average anywhere close to these types of minutes with the Pacers he will bring in these numbers, and that is a huge upgrade over Ian Mahinmi who averaging just three points, three rebounds and one block in 16 minutes per game.
The Pacers have added a skilled backup big man who could cause match up problems for Miami. Even with the steady progress that Oden is making, Chris Bosh may find himself playing more at the center position throughout the playoffs than he would like due to the depth of the Pacers’ frontcourt. If Miami can increase Oden’s minutes to the point of tangible contributions through sustained periods of play, this signing might not be as damaging for the defending champs. Only time will tell.