By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com
INDIANAPOLIS – The latest Andrew Bynum experiment is over for the Indiana Pacers, its results meager, its costs still being calculated.
Bynum, the 7-foot, 285-pound center signed by the Pacers Feb. 1, officially was cut loose Wednesday morning. Hampered by chronic knee problems, the one-time (2012) L.A. Lakers All-Star, 26, played just twice for Indiana. He had an eight-point, 10-rebound game against Boston on March 11, then scored 15 points with nine rebounds four nights later against Detroit before heading back to the trainers room with soreness and fluid in his right knee.
“We want to thank Andrew and our medical staff for trying to get the issues with his knee resolved,” Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in a statement. “We wish him the best in the future.”
Acquiring Bynum – at a reported $1 million guaranteed for the balance of 2013-14 – was a gamble by Bird that didn’t pay off. But it might have cost the Pacers more than money. Center Roy Hibbert‘s ongoing tailspin coincides with Bynum’s arrival, so much that some team insiders have wondered if the move rattled Hibbert’s confidence and trust.
Through Jan. 31, Hibbert was posting his customary numbers – 12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks per game – for a team that was 35-10. After Bynum was signed, Hibbert averaged 9.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He’s been worse in Indiana’s eight playoff games so far: 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks. And the Pacers have gone 25-20.
Bringing Bynum aboard rankled Hibbert, a source told NBA.com, when coach Frank Vogel ran plays to get Bynum involved offensively that he rarely calls for Hibbert.
After a disastrous season in Philadelphia in 2012-13, a disappointing stay in Cleveland earlier this season and a one-night stint with Chicago to fulfill trade obligations in January, his two-appearance stop in Indiana leaves Bynum’s basketball future in doubt. Brief as it was, it might have played a role in doing the same for Hibbert and the Pacers.