INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Andrew Bynum smiled and spoke confidently. That’s probably more than Bynum did last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, and for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s a pretty good start.
Bynum signed the Cavs’ free-agent contract offer and met with reporters Friday at the team’s practice facility with general manager Chris Grant by his side.
The Cavs are hoping the 7-footer is everything he was two seasons ago, when he averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers. Last season, of course, he didn’t play one second following a summer trade that sent him to the Sixers.
Knee issues (and surgery) were cited as the primary reason, but those close to the situation believe it may have been more than that.
Some say Bynum and then-coach Doug Collins were never thrilled with each other. The Sixers traded Andre Iguodala (to Denver) as part of the deal, and Collins was a big Iguodala fan. Bynum, it is said, arrived in Philly with one strike against him.
But that’s ancient history, and the Cavs offer Bynum a new start with an important old face. That face being none other than Cavs coach Mike Brown — the same man who coached Bynum during Bynum’s career year with the Lakers in 2011-12.
Bynum said he’s excited to again play for Brown, that rumors stating otherwise were inaccurate.
“Coach Brown and myself definitely had a great relationship at times, contrary to what people believe,” Bynum said. “My last year under him was my most productive year. He wants to get the ball inside. I’m looking forward to working under him again.”
Bynum actually said a lot of things the Cavs and their fans wanted to hear. He said almost all the right things, including (and especially) that the Cavs are “definitely” a playoff team.”
That’s really almost all Cleveland fans want to hear after three years of lottery picks and two years of wondering when Kyrie Irving would become something more than a really dynamic point guard on a pretty bad team.
Grant said Bynum is in a different place than he was a year ago. Both Grant and Bynum spoke about maturity, the growing process that pro athletes sometimes go through to find themselves.
Sometimes, that process isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, the way we pass judgment is a little unfair.
And sometimes, all guys need is a second chance.
Today, that’s Bynum and the Cavs. Each is relying on the other to be the player and team they believe they can still become.
“We have an opportunity to all rise together and do something special,” Bynum said.
Grant confirmed the Cavs renounced the rights to forward Luke Walton on Friday.
Walton played 71 games with the Cavs over two years, including 50 games last season. He was valued as a key leader who kept the ball moving under former coach Byron Scott — but Walton played just nine games under Brown in 2011-12.
Walton, 33, said last season he would still look for a place to play, and not retire, if he and the Cavs were to part ways.
Jones, Quinn waived
The Cavs waived forward Kevin Jones and guard Chris Quinn on Friday. Both were on the Cavs’ summer-league roster, but neither played because of what were said to be injuries.
Jones played in 32 games for the Cavs during his rookie season of 2012-13, averaging 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds.
Quinn played seven games, compiling averages of 1.4 points and 1.3 assists.
Karasev in town
Sergey Karasev, the second of the Cavs’ two first-round draft picks (No. 19 overall), was expected to be in town Friday.
For those in doubt, the Russian small forward is also expected to be a member of the team for the 2013-14 season.
Dellavedova draws interest
Cavs summer-league signee Matthew Dellavedova has impressed, and there’s a chance he could receive a training camp invite.
The only problem there, actually, is that the 6-3 point guard has caught the eye of a lot of NBA teams — and especially, overseas teams, likely to offer him more money than he’d receive in the U.S.
Dellavedova is a native of Australia and played collegiately at Saint Mary’s (Calif). He was not selected in the draft.