Bynum, one of the last players to go directly from high school to the NBA, was drafted 10th overall in 2005 by the Lakers and had several successful years in LA including two championships. However, after injuries, he was traded to the 76ers where he never played due to another injury. After that he was shipped to Cleveland and got suspended for behavior detrimental to the team and was then traded Chicago where he was promptly released earlier this month. Enter the Pacers. Indy is one of a couple teams, including the Heat, who have expressed interest in signing Bynum.
When I first heard this, I immediately thought, “can we afford him?” According to ESPN, the Pacers have $2.1 million left to work with before they cross the luxury tax threshold. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the luxury tax in the NBA, it is basically a tax assessed to teams who exceed the threshold (not the salary cap), which was set around $71.7 million this season. Rumor is that that could be enough to coax Bynum to Indy especially since it has been reported that the Heat would be trying to sign him for less. If the Pacers can afford him, I think he’s worth the risk.
“Risk, what risk Benton?” Due to his injuries, Bynum isn’t in the best shape which could be detrimental to the team as the Pacers play a high-powered, hard-hitting game that requires peak physical fitness. Also, he was suspended from the Cavaliers for more or less not getting along with the team. This is what has me the most worried. The Pacers are 45 games into the season with a league leading record of 35-10, and it’s obvious that the team has developed a certain chemistry. I’m worried that if Bynum still has the same bad attitude as in Cleveland it could damage that chemistry. However, these are a lot of “ifs.”
The Indiana Pacers work. There’s no doubt about it. There’s a reason why their defensive, in-your-face style of play has kept teams below 90 points per game (excluding the last 6 games). It’s high power and high performance and honestly, I bet it’s exhausting. I have a feeling this is why the Pacers have struggled as of late (3-3 in their last six) and being out west for five games didn’t help. I think that if Bynum were to be signed by the Pacers he’d be whipped into shape by the coaches, trainers, and players. Also, another 7 foot center to go with Roy and Ian Mahinmi would help strengthen the front court and give those two some more rest during games as well as be good back up if they run into foul trouble. As far as the chemistry is concerned, if Bynum isn’t being a team player, I think the rest of the team will let him have it, if Bird doesn’t beat them to it. Also, his recent teams haven’t been contenders and well the Pacers are contenders and I think that might help his attitude some. They made it clear at the start of the season that they want to be the best in east and they want to be hoisting a championship trophy at the end of the season. They are hungry and have their eyes on the prize and they’re not going to let anything or anyone get in their way (well maybe the Suns…good grief).
So…good deal or bad deal? Go for it Pacers, if you can get him in blue and gold without reaching the luxury tax then do it. Groom him to fit the Indiana style of play and we might be unstoppable. I think it would be great to have another big man in there protecting the rim. I love Roy but he can’t do it all. Neither can the starting five. We need that depth to make a deep run and stay at the top all season. Adding Bynum would definitely help strengthen the bench. Also, Bynum is a two time champion, adding a veteran who knows what it takes to win it all doesn’t hurt. So, Pacers, keep him out of south beach, bring him in, remind him what it’s like to win, and let’s keep pounding our way towards a championship!
Alright, that’s it for me this week. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Stay warm out there America and GO BRONCOS!