As the Cavaliers await word from Andrew Bynum, two other teams have joined the chase for the free agent center.
Bynum, who didn’t play a single second for Philadelphia last season because of knee injuries, is considering a two-year offer from the Cavs, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Cleveland made the offer, which includes a team option in the second year, during his visit to the Cavs’ facility Monday. Bynum did not work out but the team examined him thoroughly. The person with knowledge of the negotiations spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. Yahoo! Sports first reported Cleveland’s offer and said it was worth $24 million.
While mulling Cleveland’s deal, Bynum visited the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday and plans to meet Wednesday with the Dallas Mavericks, his agent, David Lee, told the AP on Tuesday night.
Lee said there has been no decision made on Cleveland’s deal. He would not say if the Hawks made Bynum an offer. Bynum lives in Atlanta and could be convinced to stay home.
“I don’t want to comment about any ongoing negotiations,” Lee said.
The 25-year-old Bynum had arthroscopic surgery on both knees in March, but the Cavs apparently are confident he will return to the form that made him one of the NBA’s best centers and a two-time All-Star.
They’re also counting on him thriving under Cleveland coach Mike Brown, who has returned to the Cavs after being fired three years ago. Brown and Bynum spent one season together with the Los Angeles Lakers and the 7-footer had his best year, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. Over the past four seasons, Bynum has averaged 14.7 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Cleveland would like to get an answer from Bynum as soon as possible, but the team did not give him any deadline. The NBA’s free-agency moratorium period ends Wednesday.
The Cavs have already landed forward Earl Clark and guard Jarrett Jack in free agency and are looking to move up quickly. They would immediately vault into contention in the Eastern Conference with a healthy Bynum paired with All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and a roster that includes forward Tristan Thompson, guard Dion Waiters and forward Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s draft.
Lee has said Bynum will be ready to play by the start of training camp.
The Sixers acquired Bynum last summer from the Lakers as part of a four-team trade. But Bynum, who made $16.9 million despite not playing last season, never got healthy enough to get on the floor and the Sixers crumbled.
The Cavs would be taking a risk with Bynum that could have huge rewards. He would instantly raise their profile and probably get them back to the playoffs after winning just 66 games combined the past three seasons. In giving him only a two-year deal, they would not be tying up much money which would allow them to stay flexible next summer when several top-tier free agents — possibly LeBron James — will be on the market.