CLEVELAND — For Andrew Bynum, the chance at $24 million and an opportunity to reunite with a former coach were too much to turn away.
That is why the free-agent center has agreed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, FOX Sports Ohio sources confirmed Wednesday.
Bynum, who missed all of last season with the Philadelphia 76ers with knee issues, was also courted by the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks. Neither team, however, was able to match the Cavs’ offer of what is reportedly a guaranteed $6 million next season, and up to $24 million over the next two, provided he meets certain performance bonuses.
When healthy and motivated, Bynum is considered among the top two or three centers in the game — if not the best.
He spent the first seven years of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. That includes the 2011-12 season under Mike Brown, now in his second stint with the Cavs. Bynum averaged career-highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8) that season, while shooting 56 percent from the field.
The relationship between Bynum and Brown was rocky at times, but sources said Bynum enjoyed playing for Brown, and the fact Brown is the Cavs’ coach was a factor in Bynum’s decision to sign with Cleveland.
Sources added Bynum and agent David Lee also felt more “wanted” by the Cavs than the others in pursuit.
Bynum, 25, joins a young and fairly dynamic core that includes All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, second-year shooting guard Dion Waiters, third-year power forward Tristan Thompson and No. 1 overall draft pick and forward Anthony Bennett.
The Cavs told Bynum they would like to get him back to where he was before last season, and while cautious, sources said they believe it’s possible. They supposedly plan to bring the 7-footer along slowly, rotating Bynum at center with holdover Anderson Varejao to start the season.
Earlier in the day, sources told FOX Sports Ohio the Cavs thought Bynum was likely to sign with the Mavericks. However, after meeting with Dallas officials, it became clear to Bynum and Lee that the Cavs’ offer could not be beat.
Lee arranged an early-evening phone call and accepted the Cavs’ proposal.
This has been perhaps the Cavs’ biggest offseason of free agency signings in the franchise’s 43-year history – as they reached agreements with former Golden State Warriors guard Jarrett Jack and former Lakers forward Earl Clark last week.
But the biggest of the bunch in name, potential and size, clearly, is Andrew Bynum.