Picture this if you will: driving to the hoop and getting elbowed in the ribs, while in the air, by a 7-foot, 285-pound man.
At 6-foot and 178 pounds, that was J.J. Barea in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, back when he played for the championship Dallas Mavericks.
If you follow the NBA, there is no doubt in my mind that you shouldn’t remember this incident. If not, let me refresh your memory…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIWSKssJP2E
That may be enough for Mavs fans in not signing the big man, but unlike the All-Star game, the fans don’t get the final vote when it’s all said and done.
Bynum was the 10th selection by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2005 NBA draft at 17 years old, making him the youngest person ever to be drafted (12 days younger than Jermaine O’Neal).
Coming out of high school, Bynum would be labeled, at times, as the “next great NBA center.” In the early days of his career, Bynum would join the conversation with Dwight Howard as the best center in the league.
Bynum would play in 46 games off the bench his rookie year. The next year he would go on to play all 82 games, starting in 53 of them, averaging 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
One of his best seasons came in year three when Bynum averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. He suffered a dislocated kneecap in January and went on to miss 46 games. The following season, Bynum would start in all 50 games he appeared in, but missed the last 32 due to a torn MCL.
Bynum would go on to play in 65, 54, and 60 games in the following seasons, the last being his final year in Los Angeles (2011-12) when he averaged career-highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8).
Aside from the injuries, the true downfall was just getting started.
The Philadelphia 76ers would trade for Bynum, sending their star forward Andre Iguodala to Denver in a four-team trade, but Bynum would not suit up once for the Sixers because he had a setback in his knee injury due to bowling.
On March 19, 2013, Bynum had season-ending surgery on both knees.
On July 19, 2013, the Cleveland Cavaliers signed Bynum, paying him nearly $25 million the next two years. He started 19 of 24 games. On Dec. 28, the Cavs suspended Bynum indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.
Bynum and three future draft picks would be traded to the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 6 for Luol Deng. Bynum was waived by the Bulls the next day.
Eight teams are currently interested in the big man. Multiple analysts have pegged the Mavs as the fourth-best destination for Bynum, with Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers being the top two choices.
Bynum is still just 26 years old and still possess the potential that he first came in with.
As long as Bynum is on a winning team, he will play, and want to play. It felt as if he never wanted to play for Philly or Cleveland, even at 100 percent healthy.
It will come down to money and his role on the team. Sure, if it weren’t for the Barea incident, Mavs fans would probably go for Bynum because as long as he’s healthy, the Mavs could desperately use a center.
It feels like Bynum may be interested in the Mavs. The Mavs are a winning team as of now and suggest that a starting role is up for grabs. He may choose to go to the Heat or Clippers, but may have to come off the bench. There’s a good chance he would start for Miami.
As recent history would show, former Lakers don’t fare well when they sign with Dallas.
After winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2010-11, the Mavericks gave up a first-round draft pick and $8.9 million trade exception for Lamar Odom. Odom was dealing with personal issues and parted ways with Dallas on April 9, 2012. He set career-lows in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, minutes, field-goal percentage, and free-throw percentage in 50 games.
Seven months later during the 2012-13 season, the Mavericks signed Derek Fisher because of the injury to Darren Collison. Fisher shot a career-best 43.5 percent from three in just nine games before suffering a right knee injury and asked to be released from the team, stating he had priorities to his injury and his family. That same season, in February, Fisher signed with the Thunder.
The Mavs are in need for a center. Samuel Dalembert hasn’t worked out as they had hoped, and Dejuan Blair is too small to match up with fellow centers, but Bynum is not the answer. If I were Mark Cuban, I would go after another center who doesn’t bring a load of problems, and stay as far away as he can from Bynum.
Bynum could play and produce for Rick Carlisle and the Mavs, but why take the chance. Odds are higher that he will be a cause for concern for the team and be a waste of money, and with Dirk Nowitzki becoming a free agent after this season, trouble to the team would not help at all.