In Cleveland, Bynum would need to grow up

In Cleveland, Bynum would need to grow up

Published Jul. 19, 2012 11:25 a.m. ET

Andrew Bynum had better grow up.


Like luge fast.

That’s what the Cleveland Cavaliers need to happen if a proposed three-way trade among them, the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic actually goes through.

Because the Bynum who played the past seven years in Los Angeles has shown he is a talented big man, although one with the bubbling potential to act like a spoiled little child at the drop of his uniform. As a Laker, Bynum showed he had talent, but he also showed he could be an entitled kid.

That’s not always the best combination for a guy who presumably will get a new contract worth tens of millions.

All this is hypothetical, of course, because no trade has been completed. But the one being discussed is big, with Dwight Howard going to the Lakers to form another super team and Bynum coming to Cleveland and draft picks and a couple of veterans going to Orlando.

Nobody’s certain what the Cavs would have to give up, whether it’s Anderson Varejao and a first-round pick or two, but there have been discussions.

If the trade were to go through, Bynum would give the Cavs a needed inside presence. He’s a shot-blocking 7-footer with the ability to score and mesh with point guard Kyrie Irving to form a potentially formidable one-two combination. Add in Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, and the Cavs might have something. 

If Bynum acts like a professional, the Cavs gain. A lot.

But there are concerns.

Orlando does not want Bynum because the Magic are worried about his knees. That’s a worry, but not as big a worry as the maturity issues of a young man who brazenly parked his BMW across two handicapped spots while grocery shopping in Los Angeles.

Bynum, an All-Star last season when he averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds, has moments when he looks really, really good — and moments that are downright bizarre.

He wants to play in Cleveland, which means something. And it means something that Bynum likes the idea of playing on the same team as Irving.

But asking and expecting Bynum to grow up right away could be the biggest challenge of Byron Scott’s coaching career.

When Bynum says he wants to be the reason a team wins a title, which Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico reported, it shows the championship is not enough for him. He has won two, but he wants to be the focal point. Can a guy like that share the ball with Irving, and will Bynum be happy if the final shot goes elsewhere?

That’s an unknown, which can be added to the known.

Two years ago, Bynum ripped off his jersey as he left the court after being ejected for throwing a vicious elbow in a playoff loss to Dallas. He also was suspended the first five games of the 2011-12 season for said elbow.

During the past season, the Lakers fined him an undisclosed amount for “numerous infractions.”

One was an out-of-the blue three-point shot, a wacky one against Golden State he said he took because he had made one the previous game. That got him benched by coach Mike Brown.

There was a playoff loss to Denver after which Bynum admitted he wasn’t ready to play because he showed up too late to finish his pregame routine.

In the pantheon of the-dog-ate-my-homework excuses, that one was priceless. 

Right up there with this statement: “I was out there kind of loafing and having a good time.” Yep, that was Bynum after a regular-season loss to Washington.

The parking issues? Brazen entitlement and ego — and complete disregard for those who truly needed the spots.

In seven seasons, Bynum’s career averages are 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 26 minutes per game. He’s averaged more than 30 minutes twice, has played 60 or more games three times and has averaged at least 15 points twice (though he wasn’t going to be asked to score a lot with Bryant, Gasol, Metta World Peace and Lamar Odom around).

Bynum will be 25 in October, making him young enough to grow.

Can it work?


It just might take Miracle-Gro.