Andrew Bynum's career as a Pacer has reached its unceremonious conclusion. On Wednesday the team announced that Bynum, who has not played in a game since Mar. 15, would no longer be involved in Pacers activities and was officially ruled out for the postseason.
“We want to thank Andrew and our medical staff for trying to get the issues with his knee resolved,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird in a team release. “We wish him the best in the future.”
Bird's parting words could hardly be more sanitized. That Bynum would be dismissed at this particular moment is indicative of far more than a knee issue; Bynum may not be playing because of the "continued soreness and swelling" that ruled him out indefinitely in the first place, though that the Pacers would go to these lengths to separate him from the team suggests bigger problems. That's not at all out of character for Bynum, who in his last stop with the Cavs irked coaches and players alike by shrugging off the finer points of Cleveland's system and making a mockery of in-practice scrimmages. His body has failed him repeatedly over the past few seasons, though the trend of Bynum's comments and reported behavior may well have made his presence -- even in a rehabilitative function -- intolerable. Circumstantially, it also seems telling that Indiana expelled Bynum while attempting everything possible to save its season.
The Pacers are technically Bynum’s fifth team since April 2012, although he never suited up for Philadelphia or Chicago and played in all of two games for Indiana. He will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, though these most recent knee complications are only the latest in years of ongoing issues.
In 2008, Bynum dislocated his left knee cap and eventually underwent arthroscopic surgery. In 2010, Bynum underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.
In 2012, Bynum underwent Orthokine treatments on both of his knees in Germany before sitting out the preseason because of a bone bruise in his right knee. He then told reporters in November 2012 that he had cartilage damage in his left knee, and later admitted that the “setback” happened while he was bowling. The Sixers had initially hoped he would return that December but eventually opted to list him as out indefinitely with bone bruises in both of his knees following that setback.
In January 2013, Bynum was cleared to run and spoke about a return to the court after the All-Star Break, but he eventually underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees in mid-March after never making it back to the court.
Bynum then signed with the Cavaliers in July 2013. By November, Bynum was telling reporters that he had given “serious thought” to retirement because of his ongoing knee issues, which he called “career-threatening.” He was then suspended by the Cavaliers in December for "conduct detrimental to the team" and then was traded to the Bulls shortly thereafter.
The 2005 lottery pick averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 20 minutes per game over 24 appearances for the Cavaliers, but his situation in Cleveland clearly did not develop as hoped, with Bynum struggling to keep up with the pace of the game and offering inconsistent production
Bynum, a 2012 All-Star starter, averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for the Lakers in 2011-12, but he seemed to be having issues coping with the injuries and the mental transition to becoming a lesser player with the Cavaliers. Signing with the Pacers offered Bynum a chance to play for a contender without major individual expectations or a huge minutes burden. Due to injury and otherwise, that did not go well.