NEW YORK — If the Heat is surprised or concerned about the Pacers adding even more size to their lineup with the addition of Andrew Bynum, the defending back-to-back champions didn’t show it on Saturday.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade shrugged when asked about Bynum joining the Heat’s main rival in the East, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his team was more worried right now about fixing its own problems than contemplating how Indiana might have gotten better. Bynum, the former star center with the Los Angeles Lakers, signed with the Pacers on Saturday for the veteran’s minimum. He will back up All-Star center Roy Hibbert.
“I don’t know what their perspective is,” Spoelstra said of the Pacers. “We’re just focused on us right now. I’m sure it makes for compelling storylines. He fits their style in terms of being big and physical in the paint, but from our standpoint that doesn’t affect us.”
But it could in the playoffs.
The addition of Bynum gives the Pacers another element of size to throw at the Heat during a seven-game series. The Pacers entered Saturday three games ahead of the Heat in the standings and have put a top priority on winning home-court advantage for the playoffs. The Heat routed the Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference finals. The Heat has won the East three years in a row.
“We didn’t have much of a reaction at all,” James said of the Bynum news. “We talked about it this morning…and guys said they seen it and that’s it. We didn’t have a conversation about it.”
Earlier this season, the Cavaliers suspended Bynum indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team before dealing him to Chicago. The Bulls then released Bynum, making him a free agent.
There was speculation that the Heat had interest in Bynum after trading Joel Anthony, but several sources familiar with the Heat’s front office told the Miami Herald that there were concerns Bynum might have disrupted the Heat’s locker-room chemistry. The Pacers front office apparently had no such concerns.
"We are obviously happy to have him join our team," Pacers president Larry Bird said in a statement. "He gives us added size, he is a skilled big man and he has championship experience. With the minutes he gets, he should be a valuable addition."
Bynum’s released statement seemed to take a slight shot at the Heat.
"It really wasn't a hard decision, I think it's the right fit for me and, in all honesty, I think we've got the best chance of winning," Bynum said. "It will be great to back up Roy and I'll do whatever I can to help this team."