8p9s Roundtable: Andrew Bynum
The Pacers gave Andrew Bynum a million dollar contract to play with the Pacers for the rest of the season, the question now is how will that affect Indiana’s title chances. The numbers say he’s a better player than current reserve Ian Mahinmi, but can Indiana handle the mercurial personality of their newly acquired center?
1. What do you think Bynum brings to the team?
Jalen Bishop: Although Bynum has displayed minimal evidence that might suggest he’ll return to normal productivity, his presence in the second unit will be noticeable. He’s a sound rebounder and when things go stagnant, which they tend to do in secondary lineups, Bynum can be used for last-second post ups. But he is not scoring in the post effectively this year(46/121 in post up scenarios, per synergy sports).
Avi Friedman: Bynum has been known over his career as more of an offensive player but I bet Vogel gets him to buy into the Pacers’ defensive scheme pretty quickly and he can be close to as effective as Mahinmi (Remember Mahinmi didn’t become a great defensive center until he came to Indy; 101 and 103 defensive ratings in his last 2 seasons in Dallas. Bynum had a 100 defensive rating his last 2 seasons in L.A.). And like I said: offense. Despite his knee problems, he was averaging 15.1 points per 36 minutes this season with the Cavs. Ian Mahinmi is only averaging 6.7 per 36 min.
Tim Donahue: In theory, another big body that is both a post presence and a rim protector. In practice, probably nothing
Mark Evans: Bowling shoes and funky hair styles? The best case scenario is a cheap upgrade from Mahinmi for maybe 10-15 minutes a game. Game changing Andrew Bynum is gone forever for a variety of reasons, some of which aren’t his fault. What he brings to the team is a big body and some extra fouls, and maybe a few post touches every game. He’s not what he used to be, but when someone that big checks into the game, the opposing coach has to counter. Against Miami, maybe it forces Greg Oden into the game, which limits the amount Oden can check Hibbert at other points.
2. Do you think the Pacers will move Ian Mahinmi before the trade deadline or what do you think his role will be going forward?
Bishop: No. I’m still under the impression Mahinmi accumulates most of the reserve center minutes. Indiana’s defense doesn’t suffer with Mahinmi playing, his on-court defensive rating is 94.2, just a hair higher than the team’s overall rating of 93.9, per nba.com. He is the more suitable, safer backup center.
Friedman: The second I heard about the Bynum signing it was screaming Mahinmi trade to me. Larry Bird recently said he’s always dreamed of having a bench as good as the starting unit and the Pacers are in dire need of a bench shooting guard that can get really hot. Of course what it all comes down to is whether the Pacers can count on Bynum to play (let alone play well) which is risky with his injury past. Ultimately I doubt the Pacers will trade Mahinmi unless Bynum plays out of his mind these last 7-8 games before the deadline.
Just for the heck of it here are some fun (and probably unrealistic) trades I was looking up on ESPN’s trade machine when I heard about the signing.Ian to Celtics for Jerryd Bayless. Mahinmi and Orlando Johnson to Denver for Nate Robinson and Darrell Arthur. Mahinmi to Golden State for Jordan Crawford and 4 mil from Richard Jefferson’s contract. Mahinmi to Portland for Dorrell Wright. Mahinmi to Milwaukee for Gary Neal.
Donahue: It seems very unlikely, but not impossible. I don’t really think Bynum will ever see any meaningful minutes, and I’m far from convinced that he’ll be on the roster come the playoffs. However, It’s my understanding that Bird is not a fan of Ian. Moving Mahinmi in season seems like it would require a huge leap of faith in a guy with the knees of a 90-year old. However, the Pacers probably wouldn’t be averse to getting out from under the last two years of the Frenchman’s deal…especially given Lance’s pending free agency.
Evans: It’s hard to imagine that Bynum will show management enough before the trade deadline where moving Mahinmi is an option. Freeing themselves of Mahinmi’s deal might give them some more wiggle room to use with bringing back Lance Stephenson, and quite frankly, Mahinmi simply isn’t anything special. Regardless, Mahinmi gives the Pacers a decent Roy Hibbert insurance policy. Injuries happen. If Hibbert gets hurt at some point, a Mahinmi/Bynum tag team effort could keep the Pacers afloat. Besides, what is Mahinmi even worth on the open market? The Pacers are gunning for a championship, and you shouldn’t be pinching pennies to plan for the future when the title is there for the taking. Keep Mahinmi, and until Bynum proves something, the backup center role is still his.
3. Do you think Bynum will alter the team’s chemistry positively or negatively, and why?
Bishop: As long as David West and company is in command, chemistry will be unchanged. Help or get out.
Friedman: Not if David West has something to say about it.
Donahue: Right now, I think everyone concerned is hoping Bynum is value neutral in this regard. Honestly, I don’t see how he could be a positive impact. Hard to see him having the same goals as the rest of the team, and that makes it unlikely that he’ll be rowing in the same direction.
Evans: I just can’t see how he helps the chemistry. This guy has proven to be a nuisance everywhere he goes. He may have a short leash, and it’s great to have someone like David West to keep him in line. Indiana seems to have a strong enough group to keep Bynum from being a problem, but he won’t help. The most likely outcome is no chemistry change, because this group won’t allow Bynum’s silly games to hurt them.
4. What changes do you expect from the second unit?
Bishop: No changes. Stephenson will continue to steer the second unit with Granger, Scola, Watson and Mahinmi, which is outscoring opponents 5.1 points every 100 possessions. That lineup is the sixth fastest for bench lineups that have played at least 130 minutes. That is a strong change of pace from Indiana’s normal output, which is below average.
Friedman: I’d think the Pacers would want to see if Bynum can contribute before the deadline which would mean splitting minutes with Mahinmi. If Bynum doesn’t show a significant level of contribution he’ll probably serve more as a bench warmer and backup if Roy or Mahinmi get injured.
Donahue: For now, not much. Candace Buckner tweeted that Vogel said it would be “weeks” before Bynum played. If the second unit continues to have issues, we may see Bynum get some burn late February, early March just to give him a look. At that point, it really depends on whether the answer to question one leans closer to the “in theory” side or the “in practice” side. From a broader perspective, the second unit approach probably won’t change at all. They may run more post action for Bynum, but it will probably be the same kind of “we’re doing this early so he engages in the game” stuff they run for Roy. I don’t see it being a feature. The second unit will continue to rely on Lance creating looks for Granger, Scola, and Watson, and will rise or fall on those guys converting those looks.
Evans: I don’t know exactly how the second unit will make up for Bynum’s shortcomings on both ends of the floor. He can’t rotate properly or switch defensively, and Luis Scola isn’t a good enough frontcourt partner to hide his deficiencies. Offensively, it takes him forever to get up the floor, and all he can do at this point is park underneath the hoop. For right now, I wouldn’t expect any changes. Much like the Greg Oden experiment in Miami, it may take a while to bring Bynum along.