It’s official, the Indiana Pacers have signed free agent and two-time NBA Champion Andrew Bynum to a contract to last the remainder of the year, no terms of the contract have been released. Earlier this season Bynum was banned from having any further contact with Cleveland Cavalier players and the organization after rumors of extra-marital activities with the wife of a Cavaliers assistant coach. He was then traded to the Chicago Bulls and quickly released by the team in a successful effort to save cap space to bring in a top-notched player (Carmelo Anthony – rumored).
The acquisition of Bynum is a smart move by the Pacers. They have countered the Miami Heats’ move of bringing in Greg Oden by adding yet another sizable threat who has the ability to pound and out-muscle any Miami Heat player under or within 10 feet of the basket. Bynum is a career 11.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game type of player. In only 24 games with Cleveland Cavaliers, he averaged 8.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game; very respectable numbers for a player recovering from a knee injury and not the primary scoring option for the team. Bynum now joins a legitimate championship contending team in the Indiana Pacers, and he looks to be one of the best back-up centers in the NBA if Pacers head coach Frank Vogel can find a way to get the most out of him.
The Eastern Conference has certainly gotten a bit more interesting and if you’re a Miami Heat fan you might want to pay closer attention to the Indian Pacers because the addition of Bynum speaks of a team craving feverishly for an NBA title. I’m sure Heat players and coaches will brush off the addition of Bynum as nothing special, but I can guarantee there will be some offensive and defensive adjustments when Bynum steps on the floor. Will we see an Andrew Bynum versus Greg Oden match-up? More importantly which player’s knees will give-out first? History tells me that Bynum will win this match-up, as Oden is still working his way into playing extended minutes.
In the end, if both teams happen to collide on the crash course that is the Eastern Conference Finals, it will be a battle of size versus speed. Both teams have players who have emerged offensively this season. Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh has stepped up to become the second-best player for the team behind LeBron James, while Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson has become a player capable of accumulating triple-double numbers on any given night.
As I summarize the Bynum move, I can’t help but to ponder why Pat Riley didn’t pull the trigger by adding Bynum to the team first. A move, in my opinion, could have solidified the Miami Heat’s chances at a three-peat. It’s no secret that the Pacers are known to out-bully teams during the playoffs and they just added another giant to the roster, meaning, I don’t expect their strategy to change. Even if Bynum is 70 percent of the player he once was, he could be the missing piece to the puzzle which could put the Indiana Pacers one step closer to the NBA Finals. Are the Miami Heat prepared or under-prepared for the NBA playoffs? Your move Pat Riley.