The Cleveland Cavaliers suspended Andrew Bynum today for what GM Chris Grant called “conduct detrimental to the team.” It is the latest setback for the 7’0″ center, who didn’t play last year after being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the 4 team Dwight Howard deal that brought Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, and draft picks to Orlando.Magic GM Rob Hennigan rejected a straight-up swap of Howard for Bynum because of concern over Bynum’s knees, and after heavy criticism, time has provided Hennigan with the last laugh.
Bynum has struggled with the new reality of his injury limitations, and has expressed a desire to possibly retire. His play has been inconsistent this season in 20 mpg, averaging 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and a career low 41.9% FG%. While the exact reason for this latest suspension is undisclosed, the Cavs have become concerned over Bynum’s effect on his young teammates:
I’m worried about the guys in the locker room. It’s simple as that. In our business, there are a lot of ups and a lot of downs throughout the season. – Coach Mike Brown before Sunday’s game (ESPN.com)
It’s easy to say in hindsight that the Magic dodged a bullet by avoiding Bynum, but Orlando deserves more credit than that. Hennigan came from the Oklahoma City Thunder with a philosophy and he has stayed the course through heavy criticism. Beyond the injury concerns, the Magic didn’t believe that Bynum alone could make them a championship team, so they blew the roster up and started over. They valued assets over name recognition, and one year later, they are the clear winners of the trade. Howard no longer plays for the Lakers, Andre Iguodala left the Nuggets, and the 76ers are the worst team in basketball.
Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic became a top 10 center, Aaron Afflalo is a top 5 shooting guard, and the Magic haven’t even begun to enjoy their draft picks yet. That trade might have been the most lopsided in NBA history. Today Magic fans can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing how close they came to living out the Andrew Bynum nightmare.
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