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NBA PM: Andrew Bynum’s Status Still Unclear
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On September 17, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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Bynum’s Status Still Unclear: Andrew Bynum is a true center, one of the best low-post scorers in the league. He’s also a quality defensive anchor who can hold his own man while protecting the rim. At the young age of 25, he’s already won two NBA championships and made an All-Star appearance.
Unfortunately, he’s been plagued by knee injuries since he came into his own in 2007.
Big men like Bynum are difficult to come by, though. That’s why the Cleveland Cavaliers signed him this offseason, despite watching him miss the entire 2012-13 campaign with the Philadelphia 76ers due to persistent knee trouble.
The 76ers made the mistake of being overly reliant on Bynum, something that hurt his previous team, the Los Angeles Lakers, on multiple occasions as well.
The Cavaliers did not make the same mistake. While Bynum was their marquee signing this offseason, they made other notable pickups in Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark. They also drafted Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall in June’s draft. The Cavaliers are going to give Bynum the opportunity to earn as big of a role as he can handle, but they have Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller at the center position as insurance. If Bynum can’t get healthy and become a contributor, all it is going to cost them is $6 million since his contract is only partially guaranteed. The Cavaliers also have a team option on the second year of his $24.5 million contract, giving them the ability to cut their losses at $6 million in the worst-case scenario.
The hope from both sides is that it never comes to that. Ideally, Bynum recaptures his All-Star form from 2011-12 and helps leads the Cavaliers back to the postseason for the first time since LeBron James left for Miami. But, even after a full year off and diligent work with the Cavaliers training staff in recent weeks, Bynum is still looking like a question mark for training camp, according to Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer.
While Bynum continues to be diligent in working with the Cavs trainers, it’s still too early to know if he will be ready for the opening of camp – in terms of full basketball activity. Remember, he has two bad knees. He had surgery on both in March. He didn’t play a single game last season. The Cavs are in no rush for him to play early in camp. When he does come back, they want his knee strong enough so that he can remain healthy.
Missing training camp doesn’t mean that another season is lost for Bynum. It’s just alarming based off his history. Since being drafted in 2005, Bynum has missed far more return dates than he’s met.
In the 2007-08 season Bynum suffered a knee injury in January that was supposed to keep him out for several weeks. Instead, it cost him the rest of the season. The Lakers advanced to the Finals, but came up short, sorely missing Bynum’s size and strength against the big and physical Boston Celtics.
At the end of each of their next two championship runs, Bynum was noticeably hobbled. It wasn’t until the lockout season in 2011-12 that he managed to get through a season healthy, but missing all of the 2012-13 has made that healthy run a virtual afterthought.
The worrisome thing is that Bynum’s season last year started off with stories about how he may miss training camp. Then it turned into another month and eventually grew into the entire season.
History has taught us to always question Bynum and his troublesome knees, but luckily for the Cavaliers they’ve built a team that will treat his absence like a minor speed bump, not a major roadblock like his teams in the past.
Smith, Wallace Forming Bond: The Detroit Pistons hired Maurice Cheeks as their new head coach this summer and he decided to add former Pistons big man Rasheed Wallace to his coaching staff. Wallace won a championship with the Pistons in 2004 and was brought in to help work with their talented young frontline in particular so that they can hopefully help the franchise return to that level.
“I’m just trying to polish up on things,” Smith said to Perry A Farrell of the Detroit Free Press. “I’m trying to be more consistent on my mid-range and long-range jumper. I’ve been working on it hard each and every day here.
“Rasheed has been teaching me some things that I need to know on the block; some veteran leadership from him. He has been able to show me some things. It’s always beneficial when you have a veteran guy who has played in the NBA and been successful and now they’re coaches. They can see things from a player’s and coach’s standpoint.”
Between Wallace and Chauncey Billups, the Finals MVP from the Pistons 2004 championship run who re-signed with the team this summer, there will be no shortage of mentors for Smith as he embraces the highest expectations of his career that stem from the four year, $54 million contract he received this offseason.
“I think one of the strengths of this team is our flexibility,” Smith said. “I like how we’re family-oriented. Everyone seems genuine. Everybody’s talking about family. Arnie (Kander) talks about that a lot. Everybody talks about when Rasheed and Chauncey were here, they took on that type of attitude.”
To help Smith meet expectations, the Pistons aren’t expecting him to do anything he hasn’t done in the past. They just want him to stay within himself and do more of what’s made him so successful in his career thus far.
“You don’t want him doing things he’s not used to doing,” Wallace said. “We’re trying to get him comfortable making the 15-to-18 foot jump shot.”
The East is as top heavy as it has ever been this year, but there is definitely the potential for the Pistons to slide into one of the three final playoff spots as long as their young core continues to develop and Smith along with Brandon Jennings, the Pistons other big offseason signing, lead the way and set the example for everyone else to follow.
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