UPDATE, 10:26am: Bynum’s contract is worth $1MM and will run through the rest of the season, per a tweet from USA TODAY’s Sam Amick. Indiana is using part of its mid-level exception to accommodate this salary, since $1MM is more than a prorated minimum salary would allow for Bynum.
Team president Larry Bird and head coach Frank Vogel both spoke with reporters about the deal. Bird said the idea that the perception that the move was to keep Bynum away from the Heat is “about the dumbest thing I ever heard. We dont have money like that,” according to a tweet from Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News. Vogel said he believes it will be weeks before Bynum actually plays, per another tweet from Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.
9:22am: Andrew Bynum has officially joined the Pacers, per the team’s press release this morning. The contract covers the remainder of the season. Larry Bird is quoted as saying, “He gives us added size, he is a skilled big man and he has championship experience. With the minutes he gets, he should be a valuable addition.” News of his meeting with the team broke yesterday, and the move is perceived by many to be as much about keeping Bynum off of a competitor’s roster as it is about improving Indiana’s.
The Pacers had been rumored as a potential landing spot for Bynum, but weren’t seen as the favorites until yesterday. Bynum will back up all-star center Roy Hibbert.
After winning two championships with the Lakers, the supremely talented 7-footer’s career has turned into a whirlwind. He was dealt to Philadelphia in the Dwight Howard blockbuster of 2012, but he never played a minute for the Sixers due to chronic knee issues and setbacks. The client of agent David Lee signed a unique, partially guaranteed contract with the Cavs this offseason, and had limited success in a small dose of minutes. His frustration with that situation led to his suspension and trade to the Bulls for Luol Deng. Chicago immediately cut him as a cap-saving maneuver to duck under the tax.
Since then, lukewarm interest has come from many rumored teams, but concerns over Bynum’s commitment to the game and his reported preferences — to make more than the minimum veteran’s salary, and compete for a title, and receive plenty of playing time — kept him a free agent for nearly a month.