Yeah, I know that many Cleveland Cavaliers fans had their hopes set on hearing Nerlens Noel’s name called by the Cavs with that first selection overall. The vision of having an agile, athletic big man defending the hoop was like a siren beckoning from the nasty rocks in the surf. However, the uncertainty of major knee surgery scared off several teams until Noel had dropped to the sixth pick, where he was taken by the New Orleans Pelicans and later traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now that free agency has officially opened for the NBA, many Cavs fans turn their focus to another young center with a long history of numerous knee injuries and surgeries — Andrew Bynum. Coming directly from high school to the NBA, Bynum has played the full 82-game schedule just once in his eight seasons in the league.
I certainly understand the attraction of bringing this young man to Cleveland, as he stands at7’0″ and weighs in at 285 pounds. In his last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 35.2 minutes, which were all career highs. When healthy, Bynum can be a devastating weapon on offense and a great defensive presence at the other end of the floor.
It seems like Bynum has been around forever, but many people forget that Andrew is still just 25 years old. He was drafted at the tender age of 17 years old with the 10th overall pick, so he is still a young player with eight NBA seasons under his belt at just 25 years of age. So, why not mortgage Dan Gilbert’s ranch and just go all in for this guy?
The obvious answer is that he just missed a full season for what was initially described as a minor arthroscopic surgery on both knees to clean out debris. They later had to go back in, as more debris was found. There were nasty rumors that he was tanking it, allowing his knees to get better and waiting for free agency to hit. However, in your contract year, you want to get plenty of court time to prove you are worth the max contract.
There are two problems that bother me about Bynum. The first is that he had the full tutelage of the league’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, at his disposal but showed up with an attitude each session and eventually opted to terminate the sessions. What kind of knucklehead does that? Does Andrew Bynum think that he is so great that he doesn’t need the benefit of Kareem’s help?
The second problem is that with the many surgeries that Bynum has had on both knees, why haven’t the doctors been able to correct what is wrong with his knees? It’s not like Bynum has been worked by shamans, witch doctors and snake-oil salesmen. He has had the best orthopedic surgeons, specialists and therapists that money can buy. So why haven’t they been able to fix his knees, and why did Bynum have to sit out an entire season?
So, is bringing Andrew Bynum to Cleveland a wise move? It’s a really tough call. If healthy, he could be the missing piece to the puzzle and put the Cavs right into the thick of things. He has the talent. However, I am haunted by his choice to not work with Kareem. That tells a lot about his character and his attitude.
If I am making the call, I’d let Bynum be someone else’s headache. I would rather see the Cavs get their young players some much needed playing time, wind up in the lottery again and grab a couple of these great collegiate players that will be coming into the league next June. So, Dan, the Gilbert ranch is safe for at least another season.