Andrew Bynum: Extremely talented, equally distracted and far too injured

Yash Matange
Modified 31 Dec 2013

Following the indefinite suspension, Andrew Bynum faces a tough time ahead in the league

On December 28th, Andrew Bynum was indefinitely suspended by the Cleveland Cavaliers management “for conduct detrimental to the team” and according to the Cavs management is looking to trade the big man.

But Bynum featuring in headlines for off court reasons more than on court is nothing new in the past couples of seasons in the league, ask the 76ers fans they will vouch for the same.

The city of Philadelphia keenly awaited his return last season, after they acquired as part of a four team deal, from the discomfort he faced in his knees instead received news of him furthering injuring his left knee while “bowling”.

The turmoil regarding his knees continued to an extent that he was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent during the summer for a two year contract, which could pay him 24.79 million dollars, without playing even a second for the 76ers.

Although he might seem as an over-paid, non-productive and non-profitable player, it is important to remember that he was an integral member of the previous back to back champions Los Angeles Lakers roster. Alas, that achievement alongside an All-Star selection and All-NBA second team selection in 2012 is all his resume would show.

But his days as a superstar in the market are done and the Lakers very familiar with his knee concerns traded him before it gets worse.

Passion and attitude concerns

He became the youngest player to ever play in a NBA game at 18 years and 6 days and as he grew under the teachings of basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, everyone predicted a bright future for the kid but issues always aroused regarding his attitude and his passion for the game.

Here’s a clip showing Phil Jackson fining Bynum for being over 25 minutes late for the opening game of a season.

You think a 20 year old would learn his lesson after being scolded on National tv by your coach. Not the case with Bynum.

During a game in the season following Phil Jackson’s retirement, Bynum actually manages to smile after being benched for shooting an unnecessary low percentage three with 17 seconds on the shot clock.

If sources are to be believed, Bynum was traded from LA, not only to acquire All-Star point guard Dwight Howard but also for his reckless behavior which included regularly disrespecting coaches. He had started skipping team huddles, he explained the decision by saying he was “getting my Zen on,”.

From a young age Bynum, showed that he failed at creating a very positive public image for the franchise and for himself.  His attitude towards the game and passion for the game started to be questioned.

Teams not ready to take a chance

Teams despite lacking a center are hesitating to go after Bynum after reports suggest that the Cavaliers might look to trade him.

Many current teams in the league require a center and yet those teams show no interest in the news that the Cavaliers are shopping Bynum.

However you cannot blame the teams for hesitating to offer Bynum a contract on the grounds of the questionable decision making.

He delayed his knee surgery in 2010 in order to attend the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and vacation in the summer in Europe. It caused him to miss the first two months of the Lakers second title defense season and another month to get back into rhythm.

Along with his questionable attitude and passion, his effectiveness post a year in rehab for weak knees is another thing teams need to take into consideration. It is quite clear his knees can no longer take the burden of an 82 game schedule.

He is bound to miss games but would he be effective in whatever minutes he plays?

His performance with the Cavaliers this season is a clear indicator that he is nothing but a shadow of a greater former self. He averages 8.4 points on 41.9% shooting, his lowest field goal percentage since his rookie season.

Suspension not taken lightly by the Cavs

The Cavaliers management are in no mood to go back on their indefinite suspension announcement.

After being banned indefinitely last season DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings’ Bynum (in terms of attitude), was reinstated after a single game. This isn’t the case with Andrew. If sources are to be believed the Cavs management is seriously considering making plans and moving forward without their summer acquisition.

The Cavs had prepared themselves for such a crisis. Only 6 million of the 24 million named in the contract Bynum signed with the team were guaranteed money. If they cut ties with him before the 7th of January they stand to save 6 million.

The January 7th deadline was most likely a precaution. It allowed the Cavs to further invest or cut ties with the center based on his performance. It was a smart move given the fact that his knees and passion are equally questionable.

What’s next for Andrew Bynum?

He is too free spirited and injured for too long and reinjured equally long for any team to jump out of the gates and offer him a contract.

If he does wish to have a future in the NBA, his first step would be to show teams he is capable of behaving like a grown up. Convincing teams that he is worth the risk and money will come only on the promise of a motivated rehab.

If he isn’t ready to budge on any of the above and have his own way, then forget being a superstar in the league Bynum would have to consider pursuing a career in another field.

Published 31 Dec 2013
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