Last week Andrew Bynum announced to the public that he basically isn’t going to play for the Sixers this season. The announcement was vague at best, but in summation, Bynum was questioned about his future here, his knees, his chances of playing basketball next season, and where that may be. All of his answers were dismissive or apathetic. Later that week, CSN writer John Gonzalez sat down with Sixers’ CEO Adam Aron to talk about the Andrew Bynum situation, if we plan on resigning him, and where the Sixers are headed in the future.
It’s a great interview, and if you missed it you can catch it here. I’ll have it below, too.
Adam Aron seems to be balk at the notion that the Sixers ownership knew Andrew Bynum wouldn’t play and continued to market him anyway, and I strangely believe him. Of course it is his fault, but I do believe that he is falling for the same charade of Bynum that we all are. It is true that he played 60 of 66 games last year, he was the starting All-Star center for the West last year, and 4 doctors cleared him for this trade. Like Aron said, “This should have worked.”
But it didn’t work. So here are my theories:
1) Bynum was playing through and incredible amount of pain last year, but the medical staff in LA knew that his knee condition was degenerate and threw him out on the trading block because of that fact. Of the 4 team doctors that cleared him, I’d bet that not one of them was on the Philadelphia 76ers staff. I keep picturing James Woods’ skeezy character in Any Given Sunday. They knew they were dumping a lemon, and we simply fell for it.
2) Bynum’s knee conditions aren’t anywhere near as bad as he’s leading on. No doctors treating Andrew have publicly addressed the media, so we’re getting an unprofessional, washed down version of Bynum’s condition, from Bynum. After being traded to Philadelphia, he was skeptical of the team’s roster and decided to milk a ‘knee injury’ to evaluate our chances for contention. After not liking what he saw, Bynum decided to essentially ‘sit out’ for the remainder of the season, allowing him to still collect a paycheck and opt for free-agency next season. Bynum will miraculously be able to play the final 10 games of the season, where he auditions for his next team, and leaves Philadephia behind.
Alright, number 2 is a little ridiculous, but I don’t care. I hate the man now.
The Sixers future looks bleak with or without Bynum at this point, which leads me to asking, “Where do we go from here?” Is it worthwhile for the Sixers to invest in another sizeable contract with Andrew with all of the questions looming around his health?
The best-case scenario is that Andrew Bynum resigns with the 76ers and is healthy enough to play the entirety of next season. That would be prolific, but I believe it’s pretty apparent that the chances for that are marginal at best. Even if that situation were to play out, we still wouldn’t have a long term solution. His health would be questioned every game. If the scrutiny of his knees wouldn’t wear him down, the actual knees eventually would. Next year would be a win-or-bust situation. Our young core would have to evolve overnight and I really don’t see all of those elements coming together.
Not resigning Bynum looks like a cursed path regardless of the outcome. The free-agent market looks pretty ugly next season, so even if the Sixers decided not to take a chance on Bynum’s knees, there’s practically no big-time players available to substitute him with. Andrew would find a team eventually, and if he had any success, we would look like dopes for not resigning him. If he continued to have health problems, we would spare ourselves the embarrassment of resigning another Greg Oden, but still have to live with the fact that our team was practically depleted for a skeleton.
We are in a very ugly situation, my friends.
Next year, the Sixers are going to be frantically skimming the free agent market in hopes of filling out the team and replacing some of the talent that’s left. Our young core needs some talented veterans. I can’t see how the Sixers would willingly pay Andrew Bynum for another season when we’ve been burned throughout this one. But… I’ve seen stranger things happen…