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.


What’s in a name? Alec Burks, Trey Burke and where Sixers stand without Ben Simmons


What’s in a name? Alec Burks, Trey Burke and where Sixers stand without Ben Simmons

When Ben Simmons missed his first game of this season on Nov. 8 because of an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder, Raul Neto started and Trey Burke played 17:34 as the Sixers’ backup point guard.

Burke was waived in February and is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Brett Brown, however, often uses Burke’s surname when he’s talking about Alec Burks, whose addition prompted the release of Burke.

The prior sentence was likely confusing, but let's be clear: Brown knows the player who scored 22 points Friday night and closed out the Sixers’ 108-101 win over the Magic (see observations). He’s colorfully discussed Burks’ “streetball-type game” and “lightning in a bottle” potential, and he had more praise to dish out Friday. 

You just felt confident that something as simple as a spaced pick-and-roll — put Al (Horford) or (Joel Embiid) in, roll Joel, let Alec dance … it was a clean, simple environment that I thought he really was excellent in. He can get into the paint at times and just play bully ball. And he has the ability to create his own shot — he sometimes doesn’t even need a pick-and-roll. And so all of those things were part of the reason that I extended his minutes, and maybe none more importantly, I think, than his defense.

“I think he’s really taken pride in knowing the scouting report. I think he’s sitting in a stance and taking pride in not getting beat on the first or second dribble with live-dribble guys. And so the package just enabled me to play him more than I normally have been, and I think he was a major contributor to the win. He was our bell ringer tonight, and we need him doing those types of things going forward.

With Simmons sidelined by a left patella subluxation, Burks’ abilities to run a pick-and-roll and conjure offense from nothing become more valuable. In truth, though, his strengths are skills the Sixers lacked back in October. It’s why Burke — the 6-foot Allen Iverson admirer, not the 6-foot-6 University of Colorado product — held appeal as a backup point guard possibility. Many of the themes we’ve heard from Brown about instant offense and shot creation echo. 

“I think my skill set adjusts well — playing great in the pick-and-roll and I can read the defense, find open people,” Burks said. “I’m just trying to thrive in that and help the team any way I can.”

The Sixers need these traits because zero members of their original starting lineup have them. Josh Richardson, the player who comes closest to resembling that mould, shot 2 for 12 vs. the Magic and has struggled to find his spots in an offense where he’s far from the first option. The fact that Shake Milton can handle the ball, conduct a pick-and-roll and hit open shots boosted his case to start, as basic as it sounds. 

Though Burks and Milton’s minutes were staggered with the exception of an early-fourth quarter stretch, there were encouraging signs from both players individually. Milton had six points, a career-high eight assists and only one turnover in 25 minutes. Since turning it over three times in the Sixers’ seeding game opener, he has two turnovers in 78 minutes. 

“With Shake, he’s going to continue to figure it out,” Horford said. “Obviously we all haven’t played together, and that makes a difference. He continues to feel it out, he continues to understand how he needs to play. And he was good tonight. He was solid, making the right plays … not turning the ball over. 

“And then Alec, he just has the ability to score in bunches, and we need that. We just need to continue to keep him involved and put him in positions where he can help us.”

Horford started Friday alongside Milton, as he’d done on March 11 in the Sixers’ final game before the NBA’s hiatus. He played well, posting 21 points and nine rebounds, and adding a physicality that Brown appreciated. 

Despite the aforementioned positives, the Sixers trailed the 32-38 Magic by two points after three quarters. Competent ball handling and shotmaking in Simmons’ absence is necessary, but it's fair to be skeptical about whether that would be enough in the playoffs against a team like the Celtics or Bucks. After all, none of the Sixers’ three wins at Disney World have been comfortable or against top-tier opposition. 

“It’s hard to replace Ben,” Horford said. “He does a lot for our group. The way that we’re looking at it is we all just have to step up a little more. It’s going to give opportunities to guys from the bench and other guys to come in to have an impact. We really don’t know. We don’t know, we just hope that he’s able to get healthy and get healthy quickly.”



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Sixers Talk podcast: Alec Burks is earning more minutes

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Sixers Talk podcast: Alec Burks is earning more minutes

On this edition of the Sixers Talk podcast, Danny Pommells, Paul Hudrick and Ben Berry discuss:

(1:11) — The Sixers' play in the bubble doesn't leave us with any confidence.
(5:45) — Embiid, Simmons and Horford do not fit together.
(11:45) — Should Alec Burks be higher in the rotation?
(20:55) — Josh Richardson looks out of sorts.
(24:04) — Draymond Green critical of Joel Embiid's play.
(33:40) — The reasons to be optimistic are shrinking.

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers