Posted March 19, 2013

Andrew Bynum puts Sixers in tough spot

Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers, Rob Mahoney
Andrew Bynum

An unrestricted free agent this summer, Andrew Bynum may never take the floor for the Sixers. (Matt Rourke/AP)

By Rob Mahoney

The 76ers made a good, sensible deal when they traded Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless for budding star center Andrew Bynum. But even good, sensible deals are subject to twists of fate.

Since making that deal last August, the Sixers still haven’t seen Bynum on the court for a single game and won’t this season. The prized acquisition — who is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season — will undergo arthroscopic surgery on both knees. The two procedures eliminate any chance that Bynum might play this season, meaning that Philadelphia’s gamble will end in one of two ways:

1. With the Sixers committing long term to a player who has undergone three knee surgeries/procedures and played no games in roughly a year.
2. With the Sixers having traded a talented all-around veteran player and three young assets (including a protected first-round pick) while getting nothing in return from their marquee acquisition.

It’s a tough situation, and the outcome will come down to Bynum’s contract demands and the Sixers’ will to risk money on a player this good and this injury-prone. Another team is virtually guaranteed to take a chance on Bynum; his potential is still high enough for many franchises to justify accepting such a significant risk. The Sixers have indicated in recent weeks that they, too, are interested in retaining Bynum, but Philadelphia general manager Tony DiLeo noted a few weeks ago that there’s no way for the team to take a definitive stance on Bynum’s prospects given how little could be confirmed about his knees. Unfortunately for the Sixers, those projections have only become more complicated now that he’ll have to undergo more procedures.

The Sixers would have enough room to sign other quality players should they opt to forfeit Bynum’s Bird Rights and cap hold, but the 25-year-old remains a terrific talent at a clear position of need. He’d be a nice fit alongside the other members of the Sixers’ core and has flashed the kind of talent necessary to function as a team’s best offensive player. That’s an alluring combination — so alluring, in fact, that it could wind up being Philadelphia’s undoing. The Sixers obviously have a vested interest in signing Bynum. They gave up a considerable amount to acquire Bynum in the first place, and the motivation to validate that investment — the process of trading for Bynum, his rehabilitation, his time with team personnel and the long wait for his return — could compel Philadelphia to keep him around, even if the team might ultimately be better served by allowing him to move on.

Either way, Bynum will surely find a home. Players this productive don’t tend to go unclaimed, though Bynum may have to consider a short-term deal in order to persuade a team to sign him. That, too, could put Philadelphia in a bad negotiating position; the one thing the Sixers have working in their favor above all else is that they can offer Bynum more money than any other suitor, though in this case winning a bidding war for Bynum results in even more significant investment for a player with worrisome knees.

This entire episode puts Philadelphia in a tricky situation, but what are the Sixers to do? Target a short-term deal for Bynum that would minimize risk while retaining a high-level asset? Remain open to signing Bynum to a longer contract and hope for value on return? Or cut their losses now and look to move in a different direction?

Do tell, dear readers: What is Bynum worth to the Sixers or to another team in light of all that his shaky knees have wrought?

12 comments
chihoops9199
chihoops9199

As much as you hate to do it you gotta let Bynum walk. His health is holding you back and will continue to do so. Why not sign Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap. With expring contracts and losing Bynum there should be over 22 Million in cap space. Sign Both guys. Jefferson, Milsap, Young, Turner, Holiday is a tough starting 5 that puts you near the top of the East. 

 

worldtunedsales
worldtunedsales

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DavidHarte
DavidHarte

Andrew Bynum is the poster child for why the NBA is so often a fraud (or is that a scam?): guaranteed contracts, no incentive, no passion.  If it weren't for the corporate checkbooks that David Stern has courted like a blushing teenager for 30 years now, players like Bynum would not be able to get so rich in spite of their scarecrow hearts.  

Imagine having paid real money--money, in other words, out of your own checking account--for a couple of Philadelphia 76er season tickets this year?  It's like some elaborate media scam, and tens of thousands of poor saps fell for the hype.  If the team is dumb enough to give Bynum even more money next year, everyone but Bynum gets what they deserve.

 

Just a bad joke all around.  And Bynum couldn't care less.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

Bynum will never play again, he is just collecting welfare checks.

shadowyoshi
shadowyoshi

Offer him a big money short term deal (2-years, maybe a team option 3rd at 12 mil a year). If someones outbids by years let him go.

AndrewJones
AndrewJones

Being a Lakers fan and seeing Drew in action all these years, I can tell you he is the real deal if healthy. His post up game is elite and is miles ahead of D12, and most nights he was pretty effective defensively. It's just he's had weird injuries and to hear him say he will never play without pain sounds bad. Hope the surgery helps, miss seeing him play.

Luke'g-spiel'Keun
Luke'g-spiel'Keun

They wouldn't have re-signed A.I. - his time had come in their minds. So they traded the, what they had thought, upside potential of being rotational players in Harkless & Vucevic, a 1st and Iggy. Wait and see on those two but they've played darn well so far but are they still anything more than rotational players? Then there's the pick they lost but at least it's protected and will likely end up as a low-success-rate drafting spot. So they did give up plenty but worth a shot at a dominant 20/12/2, 36 min/night center. There's only 3 or 4 of em in the league... They should attempt a sign-and-trade for replacing Harkless/Vucevic then maintain their cap room (that woulda just been Iggy if not Bynum) and look at moving forward essentially only losing a first round pick - that'd be a 25-30% chance of being an above average contributor. Give me a shot at Bynum over a first round pick any day.

rckymtn4
rckymtn4

It wasn't a "good sensible trade." Bynum had a proven injury history and, from what I can tell, doesn't even like to play basketball.

LukeBrimmings
LukeBrimmings

 @DavidHarte

 I've always found it odd how the NFL does not have guaranteed contracts but the risk of a player even in a short career having a life changing injury is relatively high, but the NBA does have guarantees when it is doubtful that even a basketball career-ending injury would prevent a player from being able to work in any "normal" job. Guess that goes to show which league has better lawyers writing their deals. 

geeon1
geeon1

@rckymtn4 I concur that this was not a "good sensible trade". The Sixers made a huge mistake by agreeing to take this guy. However, he is a very talented big man and if he comes off the surgeries well he could return to elite status. That is one very big IF though. Personally, I would try and sign him to a short term deal and see what he has left in those knees.