While NBA players left and right are heading overseas, Will Bynum will be staying put for once. After playing in Israel last season, he impressed the Pistons with a solid performance in summer league to earn a two-year deal. A. Sherrod Blakely has the details:
"It's pretty much a done deal now," Bynum said.
Bynum's agent, Mark Bartlestein, confirmed Monday night that his client has agreed to a two-year deal with Detroit, which includes a team option for the second season.
"He's very excited about it," Bartlestein said.
[...] Bynum, who played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel the past two seasons, said one of the turning points for him came after Detroit's second summer league game when he and Pistons president Joe Dumars had "a long talk."
"He (Dumars) just sat me down and said, 'just relax and do what you do.'" Bynum recalled. "I really needed that."
Also, kudos (again) to DBB tipster Ohad, who alerted me of the news when the Israeli papers reported it last night. Ohad has watched Bynum play the last two years for Maccabi Tel Aviv and hasn't been overly impressed:
I still think this wasn't a smart move. I know this player. I've seen him play for 2 years straight. Playing in the summer league where players try to show mostly their offensive skills doesn't tell you how a player will react when the other teams watch his moves and prepare in advance to take advantage of his weaknesses. When crunch time will come, and with this team it will come, Bynum will break. He has to work on his his passing skills so he reduces the amount of TOs he has and he has to work on getting the ball up court under a full court press where he tends to freak out and get a TO. I only hope that since the pressure will be off him, seeing as he won't need to lead the team, [he'll] just play his position when asked will perform better than he did for [Maccabi].
I trust Ohad's evaluation -- he's seen a lot more of him recently than most fans -- but I'd like to add a disclaimer. First, we're talking about a third point guard. The Pistons don't need a guy who's the complete package at that role (and if such a player existed, he'd be starting somewhere), just someone who can bring a lot of defensive energy and has the ability to make a few plays.
From what I saw of Bynum in Las Vegas, he's absolutely fearless despite giving up several inches to just about everybody on the court (he's listed at 6-0, which may be overly generous). He shot 63% from the field by getting into the paint and making things happen. He averaged as many turnovers as assists (3.2 per game), but was also a pesky defender with a pair of steals per game. In all likelihood, there will be a lot of DNP-CD's coming his way regardless of how well he performs in the regular season, but he showed me enough to justify earning one of the last spots on the roster.
Secondly, I'm guessing Bynum's presence on the roster can only help instill more intensity. He knows he's a fringe NBA talent, and considering his second year isn't guaranteed, he can't afford to take a single play off, whether it's in the game or during practice. I wouldn't be surprised if Michael Curry sees a little bit of himself in Bynum.
Granted, Curry managed to go his entire career keeping his nose clean, something Bynum couldn't do last year in Tel Aviv: he was accused of hitting a man with his car following an altercation in a nightclub last January. Maybe he has character issues, or maybe he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His side of the story sounds believable, though, and Joe Dumars is apparently unconcerned. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Update: I should have digged deeper into the story above before posting it. As it happens, Bynum was in fact cleared of all charges:
The hit-and-run investigation against Will Bynum has found him innocent of any wrongdoing, the Tel Aviv district attorney's office announced yesterday. The D.A. and police are convinced they proved beyond doubt that Bynum "could not have behaved otherwise" when he ran over Ben-Natan Bronson January 5 outside a Tel Aviv nightclub and was therefore is not guilty of any crime.
The D.A. explained yesterday that Bynum was unequivocably facing "clear and present danger, so he acted reasonably to get himself out of this situation." Beyond any doubt, said the D.A., his intention was to drive away immediately when he found his vehicle was being pelted by large rocks. Under pressure and fearing they would lynch him, he hit Bronson while "trying to flee the place."
One of the investigators in the case said that although Bynum clearly injured another person, in light of the circumstances of the situation, he was innocent of any crime.