BOSTON — Andrew Bynum will spend his foreseeable future in Cleveland doing the same thing he did all of last season in Philadelphia: Not playing basketball.
The Cleveland Cavaliers suspended Bynum indefinitely from all team activities, general manager Chris Grant announced Saturday. Bynum did not travel with the team to Boston, where the Cavs will start Anderson Varejao in Bynum’s place against the Celtics. No specific reason was given for the suspension, although the team cited “conduct detrimental to the team” in a news release.
Cavs coach Mike Brown, unsurprisingly, had next to nothing to say about the suspension during his pregame media availability.
“I’m not trying to be funny, but everybody knows what ‘indefinitely’ means,” Brown said.
Bynum, 26, is averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Cavs this season. He has played in 24 of Cleveland’s 28 games, starting 19, but his production has fluctuated wildly. He signed a contract that guaranteed him $6 million with an extra $6 million due if he was still on the roster Jan. 7. Presumably, a team could now trade for Bynum for a player with a comparable contract before that date and then cut Bynum to save $6 million in salary.
While Brown and the Cavs were mum, a source told Yahoo Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski that Bynum “doesn’t want to play basketball anymore. He never liked it that much in the first place.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens watched Bynum on video while preparing for Saturday’s game and saw him up-close during Cleveland’s visit to TD Garden in November, when Bynum played 15 minutes and scored four points. Bynum’s absence did not strike Stevens as much of a loss for the Cavs.
“I think Bynum is a really good player, but when I’ve watched them, they’ve been better without him on the court in a lot of cases,” Stevens said. “That doesn’t mean they haven’t been good with him on the court in a lot of cases, and it’s certainly nothing against him, but what it does is it impacts their defense in a way where they’re a little bit more aggressive with a guy like Varejao.
“In our game, I thought Varejao was one of their better bigs that played. Obviously, for [Bynum’s] sake and for their sake, I hope that in the long term it gets him back. A lot of times, in cases like this, teams play really well coming off of something like this, so we’re going to have to be really good [Saturday]. I don’t think it impacts them in any way that could be a negative from their standpoint.”
Brown wouldn’t go as far to say the Cavs were better off without Bynum, but he referred several times to liking “the guys in the locker room” — a group that obviously did not include Bynum on Saturday.
“We’ve got 14 guys in that locker room that are very focused and determined and ready to take on any challenge that’s in front of them,” Brown said. “They’re great guys, they’re focused guys and they know how to play the game the right way. That’s what I’m focused on, just helping those guys win ballgames.”