July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Cavs reportedly discussing deal for LA’s Andrew Bynum

The latest trade rumor involving the Cavaliers is a very “big” one.



Three centers were in the middle of a three-team trade that was reportedly being discussed Wednesday, with the Cavs getting Andrew Bynum, the Los Angeles Lakers getting Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic getting Anderson Varejao, draft picks and several other players.

The Cavs and Lakers also would probably have to take on several players with what are considered bad contracts, but there is a decent chance the rumored deal is merely a ploy by Orlando to get more out of the Houston Rockets.

Under general manager Daryl Morey, a Medina Highland High graduate, the Rockets have both the assets and desire to add Howard.

The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets also have been aggressive in their pursuit of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, but they need a third team to get involved in any possible trade, which is where the Cavs have come in.

Cleveland has been mentioned in a number of trade talks since the free-agent period opened July 1, but general manager Chris Grant has not commented publicly on any of the rumored deals — and none have come to fruition.

If there is any real validity to the latest rumor involving Cleveland, the 24-year-old Bynum would have to assure the Cavs he would sign a contract extension. The 7-foot, 285-pounder is entering the final year of his deal and will make $16.47 million in 2012-13.

Bynum, who previously listed the Cavs as one of the teams he would want to play for, is said to be a fan of point guard Kyrie Irving and Cleveland coach Byron Scott, a former Lakers player, so it’s not out of the question he and agent David Lee would agree to an extension.

Howard, the centerpiece of the deal, will earn $19.26 million in the final year of his contract, but signing an extension with the Lakers probably would not be much of an issue, since they are considered a marquee franchise and one he presumably would want to play for.

Varejao, who missed the last 11 weeks of the 2011-12 season but is now healthy and playing for the Brazilian national team, has a cap-friendly contract that will pay him $27.3 million over the next three seasons, with the final year being a team option.

Bynum, the youngest player ever to appear in an NBA game at 18 years, 6 days, doesn’t turn 25 until late October, but he’s already played seven seasons and won two titles.

He averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season and is widely considered the second-best center in the league behind Howard, but there are different views on how wide the gap is between the two.

Some people think Bynum is still improving and will soon be a dominating superstar. Others think he’s reached his potential and doesn’t always produce like he should.

There is also a feeling among some that Bynum was held back as the third option in Los Angeles behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Others believe that is the role for which he is best suited and say he lacks the desire and mental toughness to be a legitimate star.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but the Cavs, who haven’t had a lot of luck luring top-of-the-line free agents to Cleveland in previous years, probably think they at least have to consider the rumored deal, especially if Bynum is willing to sign a long-term extension.

Pairing the 20-year-old Irving with a legitimate, quality center is an intriguing possibility and might make the Cavs a playoff team, but they would still need to add pieces — or have players on the roster develop a great deal — before they became anything close to a title contender.

Bynum, who missed just six games last season, had a 30-rebound game against San Antonio and a 39-point, 22-rebound night vs. Memphis.

Howard, still just 26, averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds over 54 games before his season was cut short by a back injury.

Varejao, who will turn 30 in late September, averaged 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds in 25 games.

Also Wednesday, Irving underwent what the Cavs called successful surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to repair a fractured bone in his right hand. The surgery was performed by Dr. Thomas Graham and head team physician Dr. Richard Parker.

Irving’s recovery time is expected to be six to eight weeks, which means he should be healthy when training camp opens in late September.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.