Just minutes after signing with Cleveland, Andrew Bynum proclaimed the Cavaliers to be a playoff team.
Whether his ailing knees allow him to be the starting center remains to be seen.
“Getting my career on track is my only goal for the season,” Bynum said Friday at his introductory press conference Friday. “The Cavs have given me every opportunity to succeed, and we’ve put together a plan. I really believe in the doctors here and the training staff.
“I want to play a full season, and there is no doubt in my mind I can do that. I’m going to be ready for training camp, that’s the plan.”
Bynum signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Cavaliers, officially ending his star-crossed stay with the Philadelphia 76ers. The 7-footer missed all of last season with knee problems after being acquired from the Lakers in a four-team trade.
Though Bynum underwent bilateral arthroscopic surgery on both knees in March and has not been medically cleared to run, Cleveland general manager Chris Grant made him the team’s top priority in free agency. The 25-year-old also was courted by the Mavericks and Hawks.
The Cavaliers only guaranteed Bynum $6 million in the first year of the deal, but he could earn an additional $6 million through performance incentives. Cleveland holds a $12 million team option for the second season.
Bynum, who hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since May 21, 2012, made $16.9 million last year with Philadelphia. He averaged 18.7 points and 11.7 rebounds for the Lakers two seasons ago — earning his lone All-Star selection — while playing under Cavaliers coach Mike Brown.
“I was an All-Star in this league, but I feel like I still have a lot of room to grow,” said Bynum, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2005 draft. “I had a year off, a year to watch basketball and learn the game from the outside in. I saw what I need to do.
“With the time off, I’ve been able to get the swelling in my knees out, so I’m anxious and ready to start. I’ve already moved to Cleveland, and come Monday, I’ll be working here every day.”
The New Jersey native appeared to be in good shape, which he credited to “non-weight bearing exercises I’ve been doing to strengthen my legs.” Bynum added that he weighed 305 pounds, but planned on being at his playing weight of 285 by the start of the regular season.
If Bynum is healthy, he gives the Cavaliers a formidable three-man core with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Anderson Varejao. Cleveland signed point guard Jarrett Jack and small forward Earl Clark earlier in this free agency period, giving it three additions with significant playoff experience.
The Cavaliers also drafted UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett with the top overall pick, and has another developing big man in third-year pro Tristan Thompson.