CLEVELAND – With the last details of his two-year $24.5 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers still being finalized, new Cavs center Andrew Bynum instantly makes Cleveland a playoff contender.
The former two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, the 25-year-old Bynum gives Cleveland a legitimate force in the middle and down in the low post to pair up with Tristan Thompson and oft-injured Brazilian standout Anderson Varejao.
Before being part of a four-team blockbuster deal that would send him cross-country to the City Of Brotherly Love, Bynum was coming from career highs in points (18.7), rebounds (11.8) and blocks (1.9) in 2011-12.
Bynum would never get a chance to play a minute in a Sixers uniform due to injuries to his knee.
For all of his powerful physique and muscular build of 7’0 and 285 pounds, Bynum has had issues staying healthy, which many in Cleveland have a legitimate reason for concern, considering Cleveland hard luck with oft-injured, star-crossed players.
There is little doubt that if—and that’s a big if—Bynum is somehow able to elude the injury bug, his presence immediately transforms Cleveland from a lottery team to a top four team in the Eastern Conference behind Miami, Indiana and Brooklyn.
No disrespect to the New York Knicks, but trading Steve Novak, journeyman Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round pick and two second rounder’s in 2014 and 2017, Jason Kidd kicking rocks to coach a suddenly loaded team across the bridge in Brooklyn and the ever-selfish ball hog known as Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks got little in return in this writer’s opinion for Andrea Bargnani.
What Cleveland has that New York does not have is size, depth and a more balanced scoring attack in Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack.
Where Bynum comes into the equation is that along with Varejao, Thompson, top overall pick Anthony Bennett and newly acquired forward Earl Clark, the Cavaliers are a deep team with quality depth that is able to bang down low—which they lacked last year—and a solid bench in the form of Alonzo Gee, first-round pick Sergey Karasev, Tyler Zeller, C.J. Miles, second-round pick Carrick Felix, Chris Quinn and Kevin Jones.
With Daniel Gibson and Luke Walton not expected back, Cleveland could still look to add more depth to an already deep lineup.
There are a lot of “if’s” and I know I am not the first—nor the last—Cleveland-area journalist/blogger to state the obvious truth that with a healthy Bynum, the Cavaliers are an instant contender. What I will say is that not only will they be a contender, but will make some serious noise and even challenge for home-court advantage in 2013-14.
It’s not too often that all the stars align in Cleveland-area sports, but with Bynum now in the Wine & Gold, one cannot hope to dream, right?
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Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at [email protected] follow me on Twitter @RC_TheInscriber and follow The Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber