|ESPN.com: Marc Stein||[Print without images]|
The race to sign Andrew Bynum appears to be unfolding at a slower pace than Bynum hoped.
The 26-year-old became a free agent Thursday night after clearing waivers, but the latest rumblings on the league's personnel grapevine suggest that more teams are backing away from the idea as opposed to gambling on the talented but undependable 7-footer.
Sources told ESPN.com on Sunday that the Los Angeles Clippers, long presumed to be one of Bynum's primary suitors, are leaning against the prospect of signing the enigmatic former Los Angeles Laker.
ESPN.com reported Thursday that the Brooklyn Nets (after losing Brook Lopez) and Atlanta Hawks (after losing Al Horford) were likewise planning to pass on the idea despite their clear need at center, with sources subsequently adding that the Oklahoma City Thunder are not preparing a bid on Bynum in the wake of the recent trade that shed the contract of Ryan Gomes to take the Thunder nearly $2.3 million away from the luxury-tax threshold.
Teams with a known interest, sources said, include Dallas and New York, but both of those suitors, like the Clippers, are restricted to offering a minimum salary. Bynum, meanwhile, is said to be looking for an offer above the league minimum to recoup more of the $6 million he lost when Chicago waived Bynum immediately Tuesday after acquiring him in a trade for Luol Deng.
Sources said Sunday that the Indiana Pacers are also among the original eight teams to have expressed exploratory interest in Bynum, but it remains to be seen whether Indy's involvement progresses to the point of a formal offer.
Sources say the Pacers, to this point, have not made an official offer and are interested in Bynum more as a measure to keep him away from Miami than they actually want to test the limits of their treasured team chemistry by adding such a wild card halfway through this championship-or-bust season.
The Miami Heat were widely considered co-favorites in the Bynum hunt -- along with the Clippers -- as soon as the injury-riddled big man became a free agent. Miami still has its taxpayer midlevel exception of nearly $3.2 million available to chase Bynum, but how much of that the Heat are willing to spend is another source of uncertainty given their luxury-tax situation.
ESPN's Chris Broussard reported last week that Bynum's decision will be based on playing time, playoff prospects and the money being offered by the teams that lodge formal bids.