Andrew Bynum didn’t play a single second for the Sixers last season, and at times it didn’t seem like he cared too much, but that didn’t stop the Cleveland Cavaliers from signing the center to a deal worth up to $24 million.
When healthy, Bynum has potential to be an all-star caliber center, but after the disappointment that was last season, he needs to re-establish himself as one of the league’s elite; an opportunity he believes he has been afforded in Cleveland.
“I feel like for me getting my career back on track and really playing a full year is my only goal with this season. I feel like I can accomplish it. I really believe that I have a great chance with this organization,” Bynum stated in his introductory press conference with the Cavaliers on Friday morning.
The press conference, which served to officially announce the acquisition of the center and aired on NBATV at 11:00 am, showed a smiling Bynum, who appeared eager to embrace his new opportunity.
“As far as my mindset goes, I have no more frustration. I have had a year off, had a year to watch basketball and really learn the game from the outside in, and I see what I need to do, and I'm just anxious. I'm waiting to start. Come Monday, I'll be working. I can't say it any other way. I want to get things going.”
Bynum also stated that he had every intention to play last season, but things just didn’t work out.
“I was completely surprised [that I didn’t play last year]. I had every intention of playing and I showed up. I was ready. I was down in playing weight, I was in shape. It's just an unfortunate situation that it didn't work out for me there.”
Bynum went on to assure Cleveland fans that next season would be different:
“Again, going forward here, we have a great plan. I'm going to stick to it, and will I be ready.”
While this sounds encouraging for Cavs fans, forgive Sixer fans for being somewhat skeptical.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” read a text message I received shortly after the press conference concluded.
While Philadelphia fans have reason to be cynical about Bynum, he personally feels that some of the criticism he has received regarding his work ethic is unfair.
“I worked really hard to get where I am, and I continue to work hard. I've had injuries in the past, and there is a lot to be said for people who [criticize my work ethic]. But I think if you get to know me and you look at how hard I have worked to get where I am now, then that's kind of nonsense,” he stated in response to a question about his doubters and detractors.
“I feel like it's a little bit unfair at times, but that's just something that comes with the territory. Obviously, you take that and use it as motivation to come out and prove everybody wrong.”
If Bynum is able to use the sea of criticism he has been swimming in as motivation for the coming season, then more power to him. This time though he really needs to walk the walk though, because players don’t often get third opportunities.
If he is able regain his form and display some of the dominance that he did during his last season with the Lakers however, then the Cavaliers have a good shot to become a potential playoff team, something Bynum firmly believes.
“I'm really excited about this roster. This is definitely a playoff team.”
Funny, that seemed to be the same sentiment that surrounded the Sixers last summer.