Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers

Vogel: Andrew Bynum to play for Indiana Pacers Tuesday night


The Andrew Bynum era is about to begin in Indiana.

It’s really a subset of the Paul George/Roy Hibbert/David West era. And because it’s Bynum this era could be incredibly short. We’ve seen it before.

While Bynum himself had said he planned to return Friday — in Philadelphia, where he will be poorly received after his non-playing stint there —Pacers coach Frank Vogel up that timeline at shootaround Tuesday.

Pacers backup center Ian Mahinmi is sidelined with a bruised rib, so Bynum is forced into action a little earlier than expected. He will get backup center minutes (or at least some of them).

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $70,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Tuesday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Tuesday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Bynum will try to help the Pacers stop a four game skid, one caused by the fact they have gotten away from their defensive identity. In their last five games the Pacers have allowed 111.6 points per 100 possessions, 16 points higher than their season average.

When healthy and focused Bynum is an upgrade over Mahinmi — even in his stint in Cleveland Bynum scored at twice the pace of Mahinmi (15.1 points per 36 minutes for Bynum compared to 7.2 for Mahinmi). Also, Bynum can be a good defensive rim protector when engaged.

Ultimately Mahinmi and Bynum are polar opposites — Mahinmi has limited skill but is known for constant hustle and effort, Bynum has a lot of skill and ability but his effort is questioned as is his desire to play through knee pain. The Cleveland Cavaliers took a flier on Bynum at the start of the season and midway through decided what he brought was not worth $6 million for the second half of the season and shipped him out.

Bynum was a good gamble for Indiana, a $1 million risk that could pay off with a decent backup big man. If not, well, at least he doesn’t join the Heat.

Tonight we see the start of the Bynum era in Indiana, and we start to see if it can last.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell
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After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.