Andrew Bynum receives two-year, $24 million offer from the Cavaliers

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One of the more intriguing things yet to be determined in free agency is how the market is going to value Andrew Bynum.

When healthy, Bynum is one of the game’s best at his position, an All-Star caliber player who can pay immediate dividends for his team at both ends of the floor.

But after not playing a single game for the Sixers last season due to knee issues, and considering that he’s an unrestricted free agent who could command a massive salary commitment over multiple years should a team be willing to take that chance, the risk to this point has been prohibitive in terms of clubs lining up to make Bynum any legitimate offers.

The Cavaliers, after meeting with Bynum in person, have become the first team to put an offer on the table. But Bynum hasn’t grabbed it just yet.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are pushing for free-agent center Andrew Bynum to accept a two-year, $24 million-plus, incentive-based contract offer, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Monday night.

The Cavaliers met with Bynum in Cleveland on Monday, but could fast lose patience with waiting on the two-time NBA champion center to make a decision on accepting the offer, which includes a team option in the second year of the deal, sources said.

Cleveland wants a team option on a second contract year to protect it against losing Bynum to 2014 free agency should his damaged knees heal enough to allow him to make a resurgence this season. The incentives of a possible Bynum contract could include minimal hurdles of completing training camp and reaching minutes and games-played plateaus in the regular season, league sources said.

Also included in the report is the fact that Bynum appears to be searching for a one-year deal (at a considerable price) in order to prove his worth while healthy, and then pursue a max contract in free agency in 2014.

This is going to be a sticking point for a lot of teams.

Unless Bynum is willing to take much less on a one-year deal to play for a playoff team where he could successfully showcase his abilities, it’s going to be tough to find a suitor willing to pay a ton for one season, when the future is anything but guaranteed. The team that takes the chance will want some assurances, and unless Bynum will provide them by giving a team (at minimum) an option for a second season, those conversations are likely to come to an end pretty fast.

Bynum didn’t jump at the Cleveland offer, and instead headed to Atlanta to see what the Hawks might have in store. The Cavs have Elton Brand and Andrei Kirilenko in their sights should Bynum take too long to decide, and the Mavericks, who were reported to be interested previously, have shown a reluctance to part with Shawn Marion in order to have the space to pay Bynum what he may be asking.

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

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Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.