Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cavaliers Set Stage for 2014 with Bynum

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cavaliers Set Stage for 2014 with Bynum

Article excerpt

On the three-year anniversary of the Decision, the Cavaliers welcomed Andrew Bynum to Cleveland Clinic Courts on Monday and showed him around. They looked at his knees and talked about his past and his future before presenting him with an offer he couldn't refuse. It took him just a few days to agree.

Bynum called the Cavaliers Wednesday and accepted the offer, which guarantees him $6 million for next season and could escalate to $12 million with incentives. The Cavaliers hold a team option for $12 million guaranteed in 2014-15.

He is easily the biggest NBA free agent ever to declare he wanted to play in Cleveland, and if he is healthy, he immediately makes the Cavaliers a playoff contender again in the Eastern Conference.

But that "if" will loom over the organization until he steps on the court and proves he can again be the player he once was.

Bynum missed all of last season with problems to both knees. He had surgery on both knees in March. Asked if one knee was worse than the other, a Cavs executive replied Wednesday, "They're both not good."

It's part of the reason the Cavs were able to get him on the cheap -- and yes, $6 million guaranteed in NBA circles isn't too bad for a 7-foot, 300-pound 25-year-old with an All-Star appearance and two championship rings.

The Philadelphia 76ers gave away an All-Star in Andre Iguodala and paid Bynum $17 million last season to watch him sit on the bench. He never played one minute for them.

Other teams with cap space were scared off by his knees. ESPN reported that neither the Atlanta Hawks nor the Dallas Mavericks gave Bynum a formal contract offer.

The Cavs credit the aggressiveness and willingness of owner Dan Gilert to take such a risk. The $6 million the Cavs are guaranteed to pay Bynum is the same amount they gave Luke Walton last season.

It's a risk the Cavaliers believed they had to take. Bynum needs to lose weight and get back in basketball shape, a league source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. His agent, David Lee, has insisted Bynum will be ready when training camp begins, but the Cavaliers will bring him along slowly and they believe they have the right stable of bigs -- Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and Tyler Zeller -- to protect Bynum from too many minutes too fast. …

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