With the turn of our calendars quickly approaching, now is as good a time as ever to review what was the Cleveland Cavaliers 2013 year before 2014 brings a fresh new start for everyone. Starting on December 27th, Right Down Euclid will be counting down some of the biggest moments that occurred both on and off the court in 2013 overall. That means we’ll be looking at the latter half of the 2012-13 campaign, this past offseason and what has happened thus far in the 2013-14 season. After every post, you, the fans, will be able to vote on which moment you deem as the most impactful in 2013 (or decide if we missed one of your favorite 2013 memories). Enjoy the final days of the year, and make sure to let us know what you think of our choices by voting at the end of every post.
As we move into another new year, it’s almost habit to look back on the highs and lows of the last 12 months. One of the most important events for the Cavaliers in 2013 was the signing of free agent center Andrew Bynum. For me, this will always be linked to one of the most important days of my life.
Bynum first came to meet with the Cavaliers on July 8. The next morning, as Cleveland fans waited for some news regarding the big man, my wife went into labor with our second child and off to the hospital we went.
For those of you who have had children, you probably know that childbirth can be a lot of waiting until the action really starts. To give you some frame of reference, we left for the hospital at 7:30 in the morning, my wife was given something to make her more comfortable, the doctor came into the room for the first time around 5:20 that evening and my daughter was born at 6 p.m..
With my wife as comfortable as could be expected and family and friends notified of our impending addition, we set about occupying ourselves while we waited for things to move along. At one point my wife decided to take a nap, and I checked the internet for any news on Bynum (with her permission of course).
What I found out was that although the Cavaliers’ meeting with Bynum went well, he was still going to visit with both the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks. My daughter then decided it was time to enter the world and my focus turned to two of the three most important people in my life (my son being the third).
Over the next few days details began to leak out about the Cavaliers’ meeting with Bynum. Rumors were rampant that the Cavaliers had offered Bynum a two-year deal worth over $24 million. While Bynum did meet with the Hawks and Mavericks, neither team offered him a contract (possibly due to the fact that they were unwilling/unable to match the Cavaliers’ rumored offer), and on July 19 Andrew Bynum officially joined the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Immediately the Bynum watch began. How were his knees? When would he be ready to play? Would he ever play? Compounding this was the fact that only $6 million of Bynum’s deal was guaranteed. If he isn’t waived by Jan. 7, the first year becomes entirely guaranteed at $12.25 million. If he’s not waived by July 10, the second year becomes guaranteed at $12.54 million. Because of this, the Andrew Bynum “experiment” was on a closely watched clock.
As time progressed, the chances of Bynum playing grew more and more optimistic. Initially it seemed unlikely that he would suit up before the start of the New Year. Later it seemed as though he may be ready to go in late November or early December. Finally, at the end of the preseason, word began to leak out that Bynum could play in the season opener against the Brooklyn Nets. This plan came to fruition as Bynum entered the game late in the first quarter and finished with 3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in 8 minutes of action.
As the season has gone on Bynum has experienced several ups and downs, which is probably to be expected considering he missed all of last season due to injury. He moved into the starting lineup on Nov. 11 against the Bulls, and has essentially stayed there ever since. His minutes have increased to the point where he has played an average of 20 minutes per game this season. He also now plays in back-to-back games without any major problems. Most of the negatives have come with Bynum’s play on the court. While his averages of 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 15.4 PER in 20 minutes per game are solid, he is shooting under 42 percent from the field. Part of this is due to his young teammates learning to play with a true post player, but his lack of explosiveness is also a major factor.
Indeed SportVU cameras have shown that Bynum is the slowest player in the league. This is an issue on both sides of the ball. On offense, he greatly hinders the Cavaliers’ ability to get out on the break and is slow in the pick and roll. On defense, he is solid down low, but not quick enough to really to be an effective help defender. He is also unable to come out on big men with a solid jump shot such as Al Horford or Chris Bosh. If he does, they just blow by him on their way to the basket. Because of this lack of speed and explosiveness, Bynum tends to have excellent offensive nights mixed with extremely weak ones, as evidenced by him scoring 19 points on 9 of 15 shooting against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 21 only to go scoreless on 0 for 11 shooting against the Detroit Pistons two days later. This inconsistency has been apparent in his mental approach as well as he has fluctuated between high levels of enthusiasm and frustrated talk of retirement.
But with recent news of Bynum being suspended by the Cavaliers until further notice and the team supposedly shopping him, more questions than ever loom around the seven-footer.
So as we enter the New Year, where do Andrew Bynum and the Cleveland Cavaliers go from here? As stated above, the Cavaliers must decide by Jan. 7 whether to waive Bynum or pay him $12 million this season. While it seemed obvious that he would finish this season with the Cavaliers, there were some small signs that may indicated otherwise. Bynum’s frustration seems to be increasing and he has apparently left the locker room after several games before the media were able to enter. According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, head coach Mike Brown, arguably Bynum’s biggest supporter, has begun to shift some of the responsibility for the big man’s struggles onto Bynum himself. While it is unlikely the Cavaliers would waive Bynum outright, it may be possible that he has become one of their largest trade assets. If the Cavaliers were to trade Bynum to a team just before Jan. 7 and that team were to waive him, he would only be owed the $6 million guaranteed that the Cavaliers would have already paid, even though he has a cap hold of over $12 million. For example, the Cavaliers could build a trade around Bynum and a first-round pick for Luol Deng that would allow the Bulls to gain an asset and clear cap space, something that may appeal to owner Jerry Reinsdorf. While this type of scenario is highly unlikely, it bears watching.
Now it is just a matter of playing the waiting game. The Bynum “experiment” looks to be a failed one as of right now.
Cleveland Cavaliers Year in Review Poll: