Andrew Bynum cleared waivers as of 6:00pm Thursday evening. Soon thereafter, various reports and rumors began to swirl indicating his possible preferred playing destinations, as well as, speculating which teams may be interested in his services. According to ESPN, as many as eight teams have been in contact with Bynum's agent about possibly adding the former All-Star center to their respective rosters. As of late Sunday afternoon, ESPN's Marc Stein was able to shed some light on the identities of some of those teams that are thought to have expressed interest.
While many in the NBA community presumed that Bynum would most likely be courted by, and, in turn, then choose to take his talents to Los Angeles (Clippers) or South Beach after clearing waivers, Marc Stein writes that another team has, rather surprisingly, shown interest in adding the former NBA champion:
"Sources said Sunday that the Indiana Pacers are also among the original eight teams to have ">expressed exploratory interest in Bynum, but it remains to be seen whether Indy's involvement progresses to the point of a formal offer."
Later in the article, Stein speculated as to what Indiana's motivation might be for adding an additional back-up center:
"Sources say the Pacers, to this point, have not made an official offer and are interested in Bynum more as a measure to keep him away from Miami than they actually want to test the limits of their treasured team chemistry by adding such a wild card halfway through this championship-or-bust season."
According to various reports (including ESPN's Marc Stein and Chris Broussard), the former All-Star will be weighing various factors including contender status, potential for playing time, and financial concerns as he comes to a final decision on his next employer.
As of now, the Pacers are undoubtedly a contender for the title and are under the luxury tax threshold, but the question remains unanswered as to whether or not Andrew Bynum would actually relish the idea of being the back-up to Roy Hibbert.
For that matter, Roy Hibbert did not exactly seem too concerned with the idea of the Miami Heat adding the oft-injured center:
Hearing Bynum wants Clippers or Heat. Good for them!— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) January 1, 2014
Probably not the best recruiting tactic for the Pacers, right?
Obviously, since there is no confirmation, as of yet, that a formal offer has been made to Bynum's representatives, there is also, in turn, no guarantee that the Pacers have definitively decided internally that he is the player they want filling their final roster spot.
After missing all of last season due to injury while employed by the Philadelphia 76ers, he averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest in the 24 games he played as a Cleveland Cavalier.
Although other teams (including possibly New York, Dallas, and Miami) may try to edge out Indiana in, as Marc Stein terms it "the race to sign Andrew Bynum," there is still a lot for the Pacers to consider before adding the former All-Star. For instance, is signing him worth risking the Pacers' team chemistry? What would his addition mean for Ian Mahinmi's playing time or his future with the team? Could the Pacers find a trading partner for Mahinmi? On the other hand, is there even a remote possiblity he could return to any semblance of the player he was with the Lakers?
Most importantly, is filling the team's final roster spot with an oft-injured and alleged malcontent worth keeping said player out of the hands of Miami?