While nothing is official, reports out of Indiana (Indy Star) are that free agent center Andrew Bynum is in serious talks with the Pacers. No deal has been reached, but it is believed the Pacers are prepared to offer the 26-year-old a deal if talks go as expected and he’s healthy enough to play. If a deal is eventually agreed upon, Bynum would join one of the deeper and more talented rosters in the league.
Whether seen as the perfect backup with championship experience in relief of 2014 All-Star reserve Roy Hibbert, or a desire of the Pacers’ front office to simply keep Bynum away from a potential Eastern Conference playoff foe, a signing could undoubtedly place some distance between themselves and even the Miami HEAT in the East.
Prior to being eventually traded for and waived by the Bulls, Bynum had averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks in 25.6 minutes per contest through 24 games for the Cavs. Reports of locker room and off-the-court concerns and issues which led to his eventual exile from Cleveland came to the surprise of no one, nor does the fact that someone finally appears to be willing to take a chance on Bynum.
Even though it clearly wasn’t the best of ideas to bring the mercurial big man into a locker room and franchise lacking outright leadership and a discernible direction, the Pacers appear to have developed one of the league’s better and more secure units. Bynum has always seemed most at peace when a part of a strong core with less responsibility, and lower expectations as he was throughout his tenure with the Lakers during their three most recent runs to the Finals.
Ian Mahinmi generally provides solid backup minutes, but doesn’t present near the offensive threat a focused Bynum could. Considered to be one of the league’s best overall centers just three seasons ago, Bynum simply hasn’t been able to put it together following what was a career season (18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds) in his final year with the Lakers (2011-12).
The thought of Indiana being able to replace Hibbert with such a talent has to strike as much fear in opponents as intrigue for the Pacers. There are few certainties in the NBA and absolutely none when dealing with Bynum, but if a signing were to take place and work out, the 35-10 Pacers would have to be seen as an even bigger threat to the HEAT’s throne.
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