76ers

Andrew Bynum agrees to 2-year deal with Cavs

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Andrew Bynum agrees to 2-year deal with Cavs

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are taking a chance on Andrew Bynum and his creaky knees.

The free agent center, who never played one second with Philadelphia last season because of knee injuries, has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Cavs, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

Bynum accepted the deal on Wednesday night, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced the agreement. Earlier Wednesday, Bynum visited the Dallas Mavericks, and earlier this week met with the Atlanta Hawks.

The 7-footer was traded to the 76ers last summer as part of a four-team blockbuster. Bynum, a former All-Star with the Lakers, was expected to help Philadelphia contend, but the 25-year-old never stepped on the court and underwent surgery on both knees in March.

The Cavs are only guaranteeing $6 million and one year to Bynum, the person said. The team has a $12 million option on the second year, and the contract could reach $24 million if Bynum hits certain performance bonuses.

It's a minimal-risk signing for the Cavs, who have concerns about Bynum's knees and will have protection built into the deal. But owner Dan Gilbert's willingness to take the gamble allowed the Cavs to get a player who could help them climb back among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.

In Cleveland, Bynum will be reunited with Cavs coach Mike Brown. The two spent one season together in Los Angeles, and Bynum had his most productive year as a pro, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 60 games while earning an All-Star spot.

Bynum, if healthy, should move the Cavs from one of the East's worst teams to a playoff contender. Cleveland won just 24 games last season and has won only 66 in the three years since LeBron James left.

Bynum can change that. With two NBA titles, he has plenty of playoff experience and he will give the Cavs another proven star to go along with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and a young, talented core.

In guaranteeing Bynum only one year, the Cavs have an out if he doesn't perform up to expectations. But if he does play well, the Cavs will have a roster that could attract another high-profile free agent next summer, when James can opt out of his deal in Miami and hit the market.

The landing of Bynum caps a successful offseason for the Cavs and especially general manager Chris Grant, who had more pressure placed on him when Gilbert vowed after winning the NBA draft lottery that the Cavs would get back to the playoff next season.

After re-hiring Brown, who was fired three years ago, Grant selected UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick in last month's draft. Cleveland then reached agreements with free agent forward Earl Clark and guard Jarrett Jack, two players who will fit nicely into the Cavs' rotation.

The Cavs will introduce Clark and Jack at a news conference on Friday, but Bynum is not expected to attend.

Motivated and in shape, Bynum has the potential to get Cleveland back near the top more quickly. A force on the floor, the 280-pounder will give Brown a defensive presence to protect the rim and he can do enough on offense to keep teams honest inside.

The Cavs sold Bynum on their future, and their association with the Cleveland Clinic and its doctors were a comfort to a player who has had knee problems for years. Bynum didn't work out for the Cavs, but the team was able to examine his knees and came away knowing there are risks but convinced he is worth their investment.

Bynum's agent, David Lee, has said his client will be ready when training camp begins.

Bynum's signing comes three summers after James decided to leave the Cavs after seven seasons to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Cleveland has had trouble luring high-profile free agents in the past, but if the gamble with Bynum pays off, that might not be such a problem in the future.

Joel Embiid puts back pain aside to get Sixers 'needed' OT win

Joel Embiid puts back pain aside to get Sixers 'needed' OT win

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS — Joel Embiid's presence was arguably the biggest factor in the Sixers’ snapping their four-game losing streak on Tuesday.

The center was especially key in the final two minutes of regulation and in overtime, as the 76ers defeated the Timberwolves, 118-112 (see observations).

Embiid assisted on Ben Simmons' go-ahead dunk with 1:17 remaining in regulation and hit the game-tying free throws with 14 seconds remaining. He then scored seven points in overtime, including a three-pointer that gave the Sixers a seven-point lead with 1:39 to go.

Embiid finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds in 39 minutes (see highlights), despite missing the two previous games in Cleveland and New Orleans with back tightness.

"I would not have expected him to play as well as he played or as many minutes as he played," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "… He obviously was massive."

Embiid said he didn't feel 100 percent going into Tuesday's game and added that his back was really tight before the game against New Orleans. He said he didn't have the lift during Tuesday's game that he typically does but that he knew his back would get tight while sitting.

"We needed this," he said of the win.

Embiid’s being in the lineup changes how the 76ers' offense operates, rookie Ben Simmons said. Embiid changes the team's spacing but also gives the Sixers an offensive presence in the post.

"You have to find your spot, but it's a big help also," Simmons said.

Simmons finished with just seven points, as Timberwolves wings Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins guarded him most of the night. However, the rookie was key down the stretch as he scored all seven points in the final 6:17 of regulation and overtime (see highlights).

Brown noted how Simmons ended up with a rating of plus-3 despite the below-average point total. He said he loved that Simmons and Embiid were able to connect for big plays late.

"It wasn't statistically one of his best games," Brown said of Simmons, " … [but] for him to help us get that win on the road, that's a good night."

The win also snapped the Sixers’ recent run of fourth-quarter letdowns. The 76ers trailed by nine with six minutes remaining Tuesday, but they went on a 14-4 run to take a 91-90 lead with 2:17 remaining in regulation. Richaun Holmes completed the run with a three-point play.

Brown said he thought JJ Redick, Simmons and Embiid executed well during that stretch and made note of a three-pointer Redick hit to start the run. 

"To me, that was the tipping point when things started to run," Brown said of the shot.

The coach added that the Sixers will need to cut down on turnovers in order to achieve their goals. The Sixers had a season-high 24, though none came in overtime.

Sixers-Timberwolves observations: Salvaging the road trip

Sixers-Timberwolves observations: Salvaging the road trip

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS — Joel Embiid scored 28 in his return, and JJ Redick added 26 points as the 76ers defeated Minnesota, 118-112, in overtime on Tuesday.

Embiid, who missed the Sixers’ last two games with back tightness, tied the game with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining in regulation. He finished the night 11 for 12 from the free throw line and 8 for 16 from the field, a stat line that included a three-pointer with 1:39 remaining in overtime.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Sixers (14-13), who had struggled in the fourth quarter in their recent losses. The team trailed, 86-77, with six minutes remaining in regulation Tuesday but went on a 14-4 run that culminated with Richaun Holmes' three-point play with 2:17 to go.

Holmes finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds as he played 33 minutes while filling in for the injured Robert Covington. Dario Saric added 14 points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes.

• Embiid appeared comfortable throughout the night, moving past Minnesota defenders for dunks on several plays while guarding Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. He fell in pain late in the third quarter under the Sixers' basket but returned early in the fourth and played a total of 39 minutes, a new career high. He also nearly had a triple-double by adding 12 rebounds and eight assists. 

• Backup point guard T.J. McConnell also returned for the Sixers after missing five of the past six games with a shoulder injury. He made his first three shots and also didn't appear to have trouble with movement as he finished with seven points in 26 minutes.

• Redick was just 6 for 15 shooting but scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. 

• Ben Simmons was also surprisingly quiet for most of the night. He went most of regulation without a point as Minnesota's Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins guarded him. But Simmons scored seven points in the game's final 6:17, including two baskets in the final 1:17, and also added eight assists (see highlights).

• The 76ers struggled with turnovers throughout regulation but committed just one in overtime. They still finished with a season-high 24, many coming on errant cross-floor passes.

• The team mitigated the turnovers by limiting Minnesota to just 41.7 percent shooting in regulation, including just 3 for 24 from three-point range. Butler was the Timberwolves' most effective scorer as he finished with a game-high 38 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. However, the Timberwolves were 4 for 12 shooting in overtime.

• The Sixers limited Minnesota's ability to drive to the basket throughout the night as they forced the Timberwolves to take lower-percentage two-pointers. The Timberwolves (16-12) had just two turnovers in the first half but finished the game with 10. Wiggins scored 20 and Towns added 17 for Minnesota.

• Veteran forward Trevor Booker scored 12 points on 6 for 8 shooting in his third game with the Sixers since joining the team in last week’s trade with Brooklyn.