Ian isn't getting it done
A year and a half ago the Pacers traded backup PG Darren Collisen to the Mavs for Ian Mahinmi. Mahninmi served as a very adequate back up last season and in some games early in the season out playing Roy Hibbert. This season has been a different story. Ian's Defense hasn't been as stout and offensively he has been more of a hindrance than a help. Mahinmi is also VERY foul prone which puts the Pacers in a tough spot on multiple fronts. 1) He doesn't log many minutes when he is in foul trouble forcing Roy Hibbert to play more. While Hibbert playing a lot of minutes is good for the Pacers in the short term, its a long season and the Pacers have struggled in the 2nd game of back to backs this season. Asking Roy to log extra minutes because his backup can't stay on the floor isn't necessarily the best thing. 2) The opponents are shooting FT's early in the 2nd and 4th quarters when Ian logs most of his minutes. That put the team in a tough spot because they can't risk any fouls without giving up what would be nearly automatic points. 3) When Roy gets into foul trouble, and if Ian gets into foul trouble, the Pacers lose there size advantage which is one of the big reasons the Pacers have been successful. Adding Bynum adds another big to the bench and whether he replaces Ian or becomes a back up to the back up for when fouls become an issue... Bynum can add much needed insurance in the post.
But what about team chemistry?
This is the first argument out of the opponents of the moves mouths, and a lot of the people supporting this move as well. Bynum has proven to be a cancer in the not so distant past, so that is a big concern. The Pacers have a very tight nit unit and any distractions or anything that could affect that is a huge concern. The people pro the Bynum signing generally believe that the Pacers are a close enough group to not let this affect them, the people against fear the worst. Paul George in his interview said that he was happy to have him on the team so long as he showed up ready to work. David West and George Hill chose not to comment. Not the most promising response from the players on their new addition... but the Pacers work hard... that's what they do. That's what they demand of each other. That's what they have come to expect. Regardless of Bynum's attitude coming in, they are going to demand it of him. If he steps up to the challenge, like PG said, there won't be an issue, but that is up to him. One thing to keep in mind, Bynum is playing for a championship caliber team, which Cleveland definitely wasn't, the prospect of a ring can do a lot to a guys attitude/work ethic.
He's a better defender than expected
When I heard of this signing, I figured the Pacers got him to bolster a bench that has been struggling mightily to score again this season. While Bynum definitely can put the ball through the hoop, I found in my brief research that he isn't a half bad defender. For his career he averages 1.5 blocks a game and averages close to 8 rebounds per game. While those aren't phenomenal numbers, those are adequate, and if he can take a few lessons on verticality from Big Roy he could solidify the defense of the second unit.
Bird hasn't always added the right guys, but has a decent track record
As I stated in a recent post, the front office of the Pacers has flopped on the last 2 drafts and a couple of free agent signings have been less than impactful. For every Paul George and Lance Stevenson there has been a Miles Plumlee or D.J. Augustine. While Pacers fans want to trust Bird, who has for the most part made more good moves than bad, his track record, like no GM/President, hasn't been perfect. Will this be a move that pushes the Pacers head and shoulders above the rest, or one that they look back on in a few months and shake their head at? Only time will tell. Keep in mind though, the Pacers have recently worked with selfish players (re: stevenson) and got their head on straight. Vogel and Bird know how players work and are great at eliciting their best.
He isn't wearing black and red
One for sure positive for the Pacers is that he isn't headed to Miami. While you might question this with the whole chemistry issue, the fact that the Heat won't have another big body available to counter the Pacers in the playoffs is something that Pacers fans should be happy about. The whole dynamic between the Pacers and Heat centers around the Pacers size advantage. If the Pacers start to lose that edge, things are more difficult for the Pacers. Having another Big to throw at the Heat only can help the Pacers in terms of matchups in that series.
This is Bynum's best/last chance
For those worried about his work ethic and attitude. There is one last thing to consider. This is Bynum's last shot in some regards. If he doesn't cut it with the Pacers, he might have a hard time finding work, and if he does it will likely not be for more than the league minimum. If he wants to keep making millions and millions of dollars playing a game he needs to get his head on straight. If he doesn't, well, this stop with the Pacers will be all the evidence any team needs to prove that. Some times the best motivator for a person is the fear of losing something they love. Well if Bynum doesn't get motivated, I sure hope he loves playing in Europe or in the D-League because that's what the crystal ball may have in store for him if this doesn't work out.
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As always, thanks for reading,
-T.O. signing out.