A worthwhile risk.
For both parties.
If Andrew Bynum were a 7-foot-tall human being of 25 years with healthy knees, he would've been the first free agent to sign this summer. He would've agreed to terms with the Sixers even faster than Chris Paul did with the Clippers.
He would've made up his mind way faster than Dwight Howard, because, 1) everyone makes up his mind faster than Dwight Howard, and 2) there would've been nothing to make up his mind about.
Do you want $100 million or not? Yes. Yes, I do. That would've been the negotiation.
But Bynum and the Cavs are in some ways a perfect marriage, because they are negotiating things that are far more perilous. For Bynum, it's athletic mortality at the tender age of 25 due to chronic knee injuries that caused him to miss the entire 2012-13 season and may very well render him incapable of playing professional basketball again. For the Cavs, it's the long road back from the debilitating departure of LeBron James, a forever basketball star who chose to leave -- an event from which you don't recover. Three years later, the franchise he left is still trying to claw its way back.
Misery loves company, and so does hopelessness. But so, too, does hope. And the Cavs agreeing to terms with Bynum on Wednesday to an incentive-laden, two-year deal was as much about hope as anything.
For both parties.
The Cavs got a massive trade exception when James left for Miami and never used it. (Who would they have used it on, exactly?) They've responded in the years since James' departure with a slow, patient rebuilding process -- the only kind you can have in Cleveland, or Milwaukee, or Minnesota, or 20 other NBA cities. They had all this cap space and could've spent it on subpar free agents like Josh Smith or O.J. Mayo or J.J. Redick.
If they'd done that -- if they'd lavished this summer's version of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva with tens of millions -- then that would've been desperation. But this? Guaranteeing a 7-foot, 25-year-old center a mere $6 million over two years? That's not desperation; that's smart.
What does $6 million get you in the post-lockout NBA? It gets you Dorell Wright or Mike Dunleavy Jr. for two years, or Pablo Prigioni for three -- none of whom would serve any purpose with the Cavs. A mere $6 million gamble that Bynum could recapture some semblance of his All-Star form? That doesn't even qualify as a gamble.
Of course, it's not a sure thing, either. There's a reason the best Bynum could do -- after meeting with the Hawks, Cavs and Mavs -- was a half-guaranteed $12 million this season and $12.5 million next season at the Cavs' option.
It's a sensible, prudent investment. For Bynum? It's the same. In a perfect world, with perfect health, Bynum wouldn't be caught bowling in Cleveland. But here he is, a 7-footer in the prime of his life signing up willingly to pursue his athletic endeavors in a city where bad sporting luck essentially was invented.
It isn't quite a match made in heaven, but it's a union forged in reality.
It would be something if it worked out, too. Even if it doesn't, it's worth a shot.