Last Tuesday, Andrew Bynum was released by the Bulls on the other side of the trade that sent Luol Deng to the Cavs. While there has been buzz around many potential suitors, he still remains unsigned days after clearing waivers. The 26-year-old 7-footer had worked his way back to playing 20 MPG after losing all of last season to chronic knee injuries. The big man was reportedly prepared to be choosy with where he signed, wanting the best combination of playing status, contending opportunity, and salary available.
However, in recent days Bynum’s choices have been dwindling. Interest from the Heat and Clippers has waned. The Mavericks, who pursued Bynum as a free agent last summer before winding up with Samuel Dalembert, now seems to be a possibility with the latest comments from owner Mark Cuban. Dallas could only offer the minimum salary exception. The Heat and Clippers are contenders that could benefit from frontcourt depth, but are also already in the luxury tax, so a Bynum signing would cost them more than his contract figure. The Clippers have gotten improved play from DeAndre Jordan this year, and the Heat already have two reclamation projects on their roster in Michael Beasley and Greg Oden. The Pacers were linked to the situation, but their presumed motivation of keeping him away from the Heat would disappear if the Heat have truly moved on. The Knicks and Nets are also tax teams, but are more desperate to establish playoff position after rocky starts to the season and a rash of injuries to their frontcourt starters. The Nets are reportedly staying away from the situation, but the Knicks have shown interest.
The short-lived stint with the Cavs was considered Bynum’s shot at proving he could stay motivated and perform at a high level in order to cash in later on a more rewarding contract. Since he didn’t make it through round one of the non-guaranteed contract window, it’s possible that there aren’t any successful franchises willing to let their team become another proving ground for him. It doesn’t make sense for most teams further down the standings to take that risk, since the short-term benefit of a half-season of solid Bynum production would worsen their odds in the vaunted upcoming draft, without any guarantee of the long-term services of Bynum should he play well.
Where do you think he ends up? If and when he’s signed, where will it be?