“For conduct detrimental to the team”, the Cleveland Cavaliers management has indefinitely suspended Andrew Bynum on December 28th of last year and according to reports, ever since been shopping the big man.
A huge motivation to trade Bynum lies in his contract. Post 7th January, the guaranteed money going into his pockets doubles from 6 million to 12 million dollars. Waiving him is certainly the last option the management is considering given that they would like to look at possible options for Bynum on the market.
But trading him has been no walk in the park either. Bynum’s knees and erratic behavior to go along with his questionable passion for the game are the major points that leave the Cavs management with no leverage heading into trade talks with other teams.
Over the first week of the New Year many names like Richard Jefferson and Pau Gasol made it to the trade headlines as targets for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the rumors have no business left as the date changes to January the 7th and as expected Andrew Bynum was traded.
Andrew Bynum was shipped to Chicago along with a couple of second round draft picks and a first round pick in return for Luol Deng. However, a key element to the trade is that Deng would still become a unrestricted free agent at the end of the summer.
The Bulls franchise did try to keep Deng by offering him a three year 30 million dollar deal last week but his rejection means they have not lost the Small Forward for nothing.
So do both franchises benefit from this trade?
They would be extremely elated welcoming Luol Deng even though they needed to give away three draft picks to acquire him. The excitement is shown in the words of Cavaliers general manger when he spoke at a press conference on Luol Deng following the trade.
“Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team. He’s a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a team-first mentality and is a high character leader.”
Deng can help the team in multiple ways like the general manager said. Deng, who is averaging a career high 19 points this season, takes a lot of pressure of struggling rookie Anthony Bennett. Although playing at the 3 his contributions on the glass helps the current Cavaliers front court.
The structure of Bynum’s contract helped the Cavaliers keep in the market for any team which could use his contract solely for cap relief. In the process, The Bulls got cap and tax relief out of the deal.
Although losing the draft picks could be a blow to their future, they have the chance over the rest of the season to make Deng feel at home so that even though he is allowed to test free agency, he would be inclined to make a return to the Quicken Loans Arena.
Bynum’s departure not only allows the team locker room to focus on the task at hand better but also gives crucial playing time to sophomore forward/center Tyler Zeller.
Their current payroll exceeds 80 million and by trading Luol Deng, his 14.3 million dollars take the Bulls under the luxury tax threshold. With the current pool of talent in the front court, it is quite clear that the Bulls would waive Bynum before his 7th January 5 pm deadline, making available to any team in the league.
The franchise is clearly focusing on the next season and is still very keen to build around superstar Derrick Rose. The draft picks they have received and the cap space available to them once they use their amnesty provision, which most likely will be used on Carlos Boozer, gives them a huge boost to be a contender in the future.
The franchise is looking to bring their 2010 draft pick Nikota Mirotic, who is considered one of the best current player in Europe, back from Real Madrid.
Along with the three draft picks received the Bulls are also given the chance to swap a pick with the Cavs if their pick falls between 15 and 30 in 2015.
So to conclude the trade solves an immediate problem for the Bulls. A pending amnesty provision gives them much needed cap room for the summer and this trade prevents them from being kicked with additional taxes.
Where does this trade leave Bynum?
The trade helps and solves the problems of both teams. But where does it leave Andrew Bynum?
He is surely going to be waived by the Bulls but would any team seriously make a go for him given his statements post his indefinite suspension?
Sources around the league said that Bynum himself said that he did not want to play the game of basketball anymore, a sport he apparently didn’t like much in the first place.
Analysts and predictions see the Clippers and Heat as top teams who would benefit with Bynum’s size and abilities. Most importantly, teams going after Bynum need to possess a coach who can demand a performance from the skilled big man.
Anyhow the Heat and Clippers have their own salary cap issues to think about before they decide to babysit too.