The Indiana Pacers officially signed troubled center Andrew Bynum on Saturday.
But rumors have it that Bynum is signed not to strengthen the Pacers already formidable frontcourt but rather to keep him away from the Heat where he could be a big factor.
“We are obviously happy to have him join our team... With the minutes he gets, he should be a valuable addition.” Pacers President on basketball operations Larry Bird said on the signing of Bynum.
Bynum, who will join the Pacers next week, will back up All-Star Roy Hibbert along with Ian Manhimni. Along with power forwards David West and Luis Scola, the Pacers will have some of the best depth in the NBA at the big man positions.
"It really wasn't a hard decision, I think it's the right fit for me," Bynum said in a statement. "In all honesty, I think we've got the best chance of winning. It will be great to back up Roy, and I'll do whatever I can to help this team."
Bynum, 25, spent last season with the 76ers but didn't appear in a single game due to injury. He played in 24 games for the Cavs, averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, but had some issues with the roster and head coach Mike Brown, which led to him being suspended, and eventually traded to the Bulls for Luol Deng where he was waived.
It's a bit of a risk for a team that's sitting atop the East with a 35-10 record, especially considering Bynum's recent past and character questions. Could he offset and upset a tight locker room with his antics? Larry Bird and the Pacers must be confident in their culture and atmosphere to be able to handle it.
But hopefully now the Eastern Conference Finals can give us the matchup we all want to see: Andrew Bynum versus Greg Oden if both are healthy.
The Heat could have outbid the Pacers for Bynum because they had all of their mid-level exception of $3 million to spend. However, the Heat currently have a full roster of 15 players and a luxury-tax bill of $15 million, meaning creating room for and signing Bynum would have been expensive. Plus, the Heat are getting encouraging play from Greg Oden, who recently returned after missing four years due to injuries.
---Jay-R U. Bayon-on with reports from ESPN
Pacers officially sign Bynum Reviewed by Phil Newsome on 2/02/2014 Rating: