After announcing the indefinite suspension of Andrew Bynum for "conduct detrimental to the team," the Cleveland Cavaliers have begun seeking out trade possibilities for the oft-injured big man. That's understandably left the rest of the basketball world sorting out which teams might be suitors, and we're already hearing rumbles of possible new destinations.
Since signing Bynum to a non-guaranteed one-year deal with a team option for the 2014-15 season, the move has provided mixed results for the Cavs. After missing the entire 2012-13 season, taking over a starting role in Cleveland recently could've been considered a pleasant surprise before this latest series of developments. However, issues between Bynum and other members of the organization have been boiling over the past month, eventually leading to his departure from the team after playing 17 minutes in a loss to Atlanta on Thursday.
With Bynum's tenure in Cleveland seemingly done for good, the Clippers may be the most obvious destination after the big man spent seven seasons playing for the rival Lakers. Other possibilities will surely come up in the next few days, but it's hard to imagine a rebuilding team bringing him in after these issues with the young Cavaliers. Should Cleveland be unable to trade Bynum, he'll likely be released, so expect the Cavs to try hard to complete a deal soon.
That leaves us sorting through playoff hopefuls to see who might want Bynum. For now, the only team really worth crossing off the list seems to be Brooklyn.
The Nets need help after losing Brook Lopez to a season-ending injury, but it's hard to imagine any scenarios where Bynum could end up replacing him even if the club had interest.
Derrick Rose 'coming along' in rehab
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose continues to progress in his rehab from a second knee surgery, but head coach Tom Thibodeau says he's not yet ready to join his teammates on the bench. The coach told ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell that Rose is, "Doing fine -- coming along."
While that's admittedly a vague description of the former MVP's status, it's undoubtedly better than hearing of a setback. Rose underwent surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 22, just weeks after returning from a lengthy absence due to a torn ACL. There's no basketball activity yet, but he's started working out in the pool:
Thibodeau said DRose has started some rehab work in the pool. But he remains on a crutch in a brace so he won't sit on bench for now.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 28, 2013
The Bulls already ruled Rose out for the remainder of the 2013-14 regular season, so getting him back on the bench is mostly about having him around his teammates barring a surprising postseason return. He's reportedly been seen recently around the team's training facility in Deerfield, Ill., but after what happened last season, it may be better for all sides to at some point officially shut him down until 2014-15.
LeBron James a "close call" for Heat-Trail Blazers
The Miami Heat may have to play a rare game without LeBron James as the four-time MVP deals with an ongoing groin injury. It appears the team is treating James as a game-time decision, though one would imagine caution prevails if there's even remote risk of things getting worse:
On another front, source says it's a "close call" for LeBron at Blazers tonight w/groin injury.Doesn't have as much experience w/this injury— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) December 28, 2013
One of the more durable players in the league, James has avoided major injuries throughout his impressive career. In his first three seasons with the Heat, including postseason contests, LeBron has averaged nearly 95 games a year despite the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. If he's unable to go, it takes a little thunder from one of the more exciting matchups this weekend.
Jason Kidd 'losing his grip' on Nets' locker room
It appears Jason Kidd might be in over his head. The Brooklyn Nets' first-year head coach could be losing control of the team's locker room just one-third into the season, as relayed from a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
For the Nets, this has been something of a disaster season, one that's seen injuries, internal conflict and poor on-court performance sink the team's hopes for contending. Recently, Kidd reportedly ousted top assistant Lawrence Frank after a power struggle, and those issues have extended throughout the locker room and coaching staff, via Woj:
The Nets had tried to be supportive of Kidd, but patience is running low on the belief he can deliver the structure and organization desperately needed. As the Nets have devolved into chaos, Kidd has increasingly isolated himself within the locker room and organization, sources told Yahoo! Sports. From management to players, Kidd has shown an inability to manage crisis and keep the respect of his players.
With veteran players like Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the locker room, plus title expectations from ownership and the front office, hiring an inexperienced coach like Kidd was always a high-risk decision. Just 29 games into the season, the Nets are 10-19 -- we're already seeing what many likely would've considered the worst-case scenario. If the tone in Brooklyn doesn't change rapidly in the coming weeks, it'll be hard to expect more patience from the team.
Hawks, Thunder deal with losing Horford, Westbrook
Like many other teams around the league, the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder need to weather some major injuries in the coming weeks. With big man Al Horford and point guard Russell Westbrook both sidelined for their respective teams, figuring out how to replace each player's production will be a key goal for both teams.
For OKC, the answer seems to be pretty obvious: Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb need to step up like they did earlier this season as Westbrook recovered from April surgery. As Westbrook deals with another injury to the same knee, Ethan Rothstein took a look at Russell's recent injury history and what it might mean for OKC in the short term.
Meanwhile, the Hawks don't have options like Jackson or Lamb to replace Horford, which means folks like Pero Antic will need to deliver in larger roles. As Rothstein notes, defense will likely be where Atlanta really suffers without its starting center, but a weak Eastern Conference should still allow the Hawks to reach the postseason with or without Horford.