Pacers didn't just sign Andrew Bynum to keep him away from Heat, says Larry Bird

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The former Cavaliers center has signed with the Indiana Pacers.

The Indiana Pacers announced this morning that they signed former Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum, and there's no shortage of speculation as to the impact it could have on the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Bynum has been less than productive during his time on the court this season, but Indiana's lack of depth in the frontcourt and the potential payoff from the former All-Star made the gamble seem worthwhile for Larry Bird, Kevin Pritchard and the rest of the Pacers front office.

Indiana currently has just four frontcourt players in Roy Hibbert, David West, Ian Mahinmi and Luis Scola. Bynum adds another big body to the Pacers front line that can absorb fouls, alter shots and provide some offensive presence as they prepare for a run through the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Of course, the move is also seen as anticipating a matchup with the Miami Heat, who signed Greg Oden on Aug. 7 and appear to be slowly ramping up his minutes as the playoffs approach. If the two teams meet in the Eastern Conference Finals as many expect, we could see a matchup between both injury-maligned big men that would have writers in a frenzy to see who can spin the most heartfelt narrative.

The move is a low-risk, high-reward proposition for the Pacers, who are making a push this season to win a championship. While Bynum's $1 million salary isn't a small chunk of change, the Pacers already have the best record in the NBA and can take the risk on what is possibly the most skilled free agent available looking for a high-level team.

Indiana stands at 35-10, good enough for first in the Eastern Conference. Bynum will join the Pacers sometime next week.

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