Per Howard Eskin of Fox 29 TV in Philadelphia, the Rockets are prepared to offer the still injured Bynum a contract this summer.
— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) February 25, 2013
I’m trying really hard to hate on this theory, I really am, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued.
Bynum has yet to appear in a game this season, yet seems headed for a massive payday anyway. He made his first All-Star appearance only last year, averaging 18.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Though the state of his knees are unsettling, teams might be willing to overlook that in favor of what they know he is capable of doing when healthy.
Subsequently, a large part of me can’t see the Philadelphia 76ers turning Bynum loose. He’s caused nothing but headaches thus far, but big men of his caliber can’t be cherry picked off trees everyday.
Still, the prospect of committing five-years and nearly nine-figures to a player they have yet to see suit up for them can’t be too appealing. If another team comes along with an offer big enough, the Sixers could make themselves scarce. It would mean they had cut ties with Andre Iguodala and Nikola Vucevic for absolutely nothing, but perhaps that would be comforting than knowing they invested nearly $100 million in a source of uncertainty.
And don’t be surprised if the Rockets are the ones who force Philadelphia into a difficult decision.
Houston is slated to have $20-plus million is cap space this summer, and can offer as much money over four years as the NBA’s CBA will allow. More likely than not, the Rockets will turn their attention to Dwight Howard before Bynum, but if he re-signs with the Los Angeles Lakers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Houston make a run at the 25-year-old Bynum.
The Rockets already have a nice core in place with James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Thomas Robinson, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, and Bynum would arguably make them even more formidable an opponent.
Of course, this “plan” is not without its flaws.
Would the Rockets elect to hold onto Asik or ship him elsewhere? Are Bynum’s knees worth investing in? Can he even keep up in the fast paced system Houston runs?
The latter is of the most importance. Asik can either come off the bench or be dealt and the Rockets will do their due diligence on Bynum’s knee. What they can’t guarantee is that he fits into their current game plan.
Houston likes to run. Strike that, it loves to run. Harden, Lin, Parsons and now Robinson are great at running the break and pushing the tempo. Can Bynum’s knees handle that?
Bynum has never played at pace similar to that of the Rockets’. He was exposed to mostly half-court offenses while in Los Angeles. But the same can arguably said of Asik during his time with the Chicago Bulls. He’s still not much of a runner, but Houston has done a great job conditioning him and turning him into a center who can run the floor at a respectable pace. Perhaps they could tailor a blueprint to meet Bynum’s needs.
With that all said, I’d caution the Rockets to stay away. Robinson and Asik should be enough to compress defenses to open things up for Houston’s shooters. If they feel like chasing a David West or someone along those lines, then by all means, they should. Given Bynum’s injury history, I just wouldn’t endorse the Rockets wasting a max contract on him. I’d rather see them chase a Josh Smith, Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson.
Yes, this one particular scenario is an interesting one to consider, but it’s also one the Rockets should avoid at making a reality.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.