Still questions about Bynum’s return, but not his desire
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Andrew Bynum and the Cleveland Cavaliers could stay quiet. They could try to keep everyone in the dark about Bynum’s status, about when he might actually suit up and play a real NBA game.
And a lot of people might say that is exactly that they’re doing.
But that’s not the truth. The truth is, they honestly don’t know. All anyone knows is Bynum has progressed greatly since the end of last season, when he completed one year with the Philadelphia 76ers without ever stepping on the floor.
In fact, he’s progressed pretty well since July, when the 7-footer signed a free-agent contract with the Cavs.
Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess as to when Bynum’s knees will have healed enough for full-court, five-on-five basketball, real basketball.
Cavs general manager Chris Grant strongly hinted he hopes, maybe expects, that it will be “soon.” Bynum himself flat-out stated the same.
He also flat-out stated he will “definitely” play for the Cavs in 2013-14.
And he predicts good things will happen once he does.
“I’m showing up every day, working my butt off and eager to get started,” he told FOX Sports Ohio. “I think we have a good team this year — one that I could be a big part of.”
Bynum last played two seasons ago, his lone season as an All-Star under current Cavs coach Mike Brown. The two of them were with the Los Angeles Lakers that year. Because of the lockout, the regular season consisted of just 66 games. Bynum played in 60 of them and averaged career-highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8).
Now, he’s reunited with Brown, and joining All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, big man Tristan Thompson and several others about whom he appeared to be excited.
“I think it’s a good situation for me here, honestly,” he said. “The Cavs organization has laid everything on the table for me.”
Bynum’s base salary is $6 million. By hitting several benchmarks, he can make up to $12 million.
Right now, he’s running on the treadmill, hitting the weight room, and even playing some full-court (although not yet five-on-five).
“You saw him,” Grant said at Monday’s media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “His body looks great. He’s been working like crazy. He’s progressed.”
Grant added that Bynum has been “getting up and down the court (at) full speed.”
That right there is a plus.
“There’s been no setbacks and he takes steps every day,” Grant said. “But there’s no hard timeline or any type of drop-dead date for him (to play).”
The Cavs finished 24-58 last season, their third straight year of missing the playoffs. Along with random injuries to Irving, center Anderson Varejao missed extended time following knee surgery and blood clots.
But those two are back and healthy — and with the addition of the likes of veteran guard Jarrett Jack and power forward and No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett, expectations are fairly higher. Not sky-high, but higher.
Bynum said he, too, will factor into that.
“We have a lot of size and a lot of different types of guys,” he told FSO of the Cavs’ frontcourt. “You have Bennett who can shoot 3-pointers, drive to the basket and is athletic on the break. Anderson Varejao is just super hustle, an endless amount of energy. Offensively and defensively, he plays his heart out.
“And when I’m back, commanding double-teams on the block … we’re pretty potent.”
As for his second stint with Brown, Bynum indicated he’s nothing short of thrilled.
“A lot of people think, for some reason, that we had our issues — but I never had a problem with Mike,” Bynum said. “He’s a defensive-minded coach, which is what you have to do to win games.
“I think me coming here with him and him coming back home is gonna be a great thing.”