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The Indiana Pacers officially announced adding controversial free agent center Andrew Bynum to their roster this morning. The deal is reportedly for around $1 million for the remainder of the '13-'14 season.
In a move that raised more than a few eyebrows, the Pacers hope to further bolster their frontline that already boasts of All-Star Roy Hibbert, David West, Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi.
"We were looking for another big. Great upside for us. We're in the now, trying to go as far as we possibly can," Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird was quoted by Indy Sport Report. "He gives us added size, he is a skilled big man and he has championship experience. With the minutes he gets, he should be a valuable addition."
A healthy Bynum can definitely provide some valuable minutes for the title-seeking Pacers, especially with Hibbert's propensity of getting into foul trouble.
“It really wasn’t a hard decision, I think it’s the right fit for me and, in all honesty, I think we’ve got the best chance of winning,” said Bynum. “It will be great to back up Roy and I’ll do whatever I can to help this team.”
But with serviceable center Mahinmi already backing up Hibbert, a few observers wonder if the risk of adding a player with the kind of baggage Bynum brings with him is even a worthwhile risk for the Pacers. Some have even speculated the move was to keep Bynum away from possibly helping the Miami Heat deal with Hibbert down the stretch.
"I don't know who came up with that but that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," was Bird's swift response when the topic was brought up by the media.
Not one to shy away from controversial players, perhaps Bird is hoping that his tight-knit locker room will rub off on Bynum and that he can be a solid contributor later in the season. It's worked wonders for the likes of Lance Stephenson, but history warns about cases like Metta World Peace (the former Ron Artest) and Stephen Jackson.
With Bynum though, the Pacers aren't risking a whole lot since he'll be coming in on a discounted rental basis. Among the list of things Bynum has been accused of is that he is a player with poor work ethic and that he doesn't truly enjoy playing basketball.
Bynum averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 24 games this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers before being suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team" and was then shipped to the Chicago Bulls in the Luol Deng trade, before being waived in a salary-dumping move.
From injuries to controversy, the past couple of season have definitely cast a negative light on Bynum's once glowing NBA career. Perhaps returning to a winning atmosphere and being around high character guys can help turn things around for the 26-year-old seven footer and even amount to a third NBA ring.
Was this a good move for the Pacers? Let me know your thoughts below.