Report: Andrew Bynum ‘most likely’ has played his final game for Cavaliers

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Details are beginning to emerge about the events that led up to Andrew Bynum being suspended indefinitely by the Cleveland Cavaliers. And while there doesn’t seem to be any one incident or blow-up that led to the club’s decision, the fact seems to be that Bynum was increasingly unhappy in his surroundings.

The team will of course try to trade Bynum and his flexible contract to get some type of return on its investment, but the reality is that everyone around the league knows the particulars of the deal — one which incentivizes Cleveland to make a decision in the next week or so regarding Bynum’s status.

Only $6 million of Bynum’s two year deal worth almost $25 million is guaranteed, and the rest doesn’t become guaranteed unless he’s on the roster past Jan. 5. Because this date is rapidly approaching, and because Bynum is believed to be incorrigible where the Cavaliers are concerned, the latest report says that Bynum’s playing days in Cleveland are a thing of the past.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:

• Bynum most likely has played his final game for the Cavs, though it is possible he will be on the roster for months and get paid. The Cavs can’t suspend him without pay for the rest of the season for conduct detrimental to the team.

•  Bynum has been sulking recently because his playing time and touches have dwindled even as he’s at times showed he can still be a significant contributor. During the Cavs’ double-overtime loss Thursday to the Atlanta Hawks, Bynum was benched in the third quarter and never returned. He spent the rest of the night at the end of the bench and appeared to be sulking.

•  On Friday, Bynum met with coach Mike Brown, sources said. It isn’t clear what happened in that meeting, but it’s possible he was told the Cavs might go a different direction with the big man’s minutes. Afterward, the Cavs decided to suspend Bynum and not take him on their team flight to Boston on Friday afternoon. By Saturday, the team had him on the trade block.

The part about him potentially being on the roster for months and getting paid doesn’t seem right at all, since the Cavaliers can simply waive Bynum sometime during the next week and cut their losses.

It would take a sincere reconciliation before then and then another incident to cause that to happen, a scenario which seems far from likely at this stage of the proceedings.

The only question where Bynum is concerned now becomes whether another team will take a chance on him. He’s shown the ability to still be able to play, but whether the desire is there to deal with any type of adversity at this point in his career remains to be seen, and the true contenders of the league — Miami, Indiana, and San Antonio — are unlikely to bother with such a risk.

The second-tier teams, however, may take a much longer look at the pros and cons of giving Bynum one final shot.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

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Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.