With a great coach and an excellent young core, the 76ers are thriving, leaving some to wonder if they’re better without Andrew Bynum.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ first month is out of the way, and we’ve certainly learned a lot about this year’s team.
They have had their ups and downs, but are currently sitting at 9-6, which has to be looked at as a positive.
Although they’ve been successful, one player has been noticeably absent from the team. His presence has been missed, and it’s easy to wonder where the Sixers would be at if they had him right now.
That player is of course Andrew Bynum.
Bynum averages more stories per day than minutes per game and that’s certainly not what Philadelphia envisioned after trading for him this summer. It feels like something always goes wrong or another round of bowling takes place whenever he nears return.
Still though, Philly has played through his absence and found themselves with a solid winning record through month one.
Here’s a look at what we’ve learned about the Sixers through the first month. And please, leave a comment about anything that you’ve learned.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of games played through Nov. 29.
No one trusts Andrew Bynum.
The Los Angeles Lakers displayed that belief over the summer when they found a way to flip him for Dwight Howard, and with each new injury, setback or ridiculous story, the Philadelphia 76ers and every other team in the NBA will feel the same way.
Bynum’s newest setback, which—unsurprisingly—came following a bowling injury, is the most dispiriting yet.
From ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:
Sixers GM Tony DiLeo said tonight that Andrew Bynum now out indefinitely. Sixers previously hoped for mid-Dec. return to practice
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) November 24, 2012
First, Bynum was supposed to miss part of the preseason. Then all of the preseason. Then just the first week of the regular season. Then he was due back in mid-November. Now he’s out indefinitely.
Um, yeah, that’s not exactly the direction this recovery process is supposed to be headed. In fact, it’s the exact opposite direction it’s supposed to be headed.
At any rate, we knew this coming in. We knew Bynum wasn’t what you would call the ideal picture of health. He missed 47 games in 2007-08. Thirty-two in ’08-’09. Seventeen in ’09-’10. Another 12 last season.
That’s 108 games missed in four seasons.
Nevertheless, we had come to accept the fact that Bynum would only play 80 percent of every season simply because of his oozing potential and unique skill set.
That potential came to life last season: 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 0.5 steals per game. A 58-percent mark from the field and 59 percent true-shooting percentage.
Essentially, Bynum convinced us that he was above the line on the talent-injury scale, which coincidentally enough is similar to the hot-crazy scale. As long as Bynum’s talent and production outweighed his injury problems, we were willing to accept him as elite. As one of the best centers in the league.
Unfortunately, with yet another setback, Bynum is starting to slip below that line. The injuries are becoming too hard to ignore.
How will we expect him to go rigorous, physical season after rigorous, physical season without constantly being forced to dress in a suit and grow his hair out in, um, interesting ways?
Unfortunately for Bynum, this is the worst time for those questions to arise.
The 25-year-old center is set to hit free agency after the season, and you can bet that every game he misses from this point on will only continue to shrink his upcoming contract.
When it comes down to it, Andrew Bynum’s latest—but certainly not last—injury problem means he’s going to have to continue doing what he’s done his entire career and thought he had accomplished during last year’s breakout campaign: Convince teams of his value.
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If there’s one thing that I think we can all agree on, it’s that life has been a little too smooth for Andrew Bynum lately.
From the totally uneventful start to his first training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers and news that he definitely wouldn’t need another preseason injection in his right knee to his on-time return for the start of the regular season, ability to do more than low-impact work on an anti-gravity treadmill , avoidance of any insane bowling-alley injuries and steering-clear of totally open-ended indefinite shelvings , it’s been smooth sailing for the 7-footer ever since he was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the 76ers as part of the four-team blockbuster that sent Dwight Howard to Hollywood and Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. Just one look at the 25-year-old big man makes it clear that everything is going great, thank you very much.
Given how copacetic everything’s been for Bynum these past few months, then, maybe it’s a good thing that he now finds himself embroiled in a testy legal row with his former next-door neighbors that’s appears best described by Janine White of the Philly Post as “a battle of ‘he said “you threw pennies at my Ferrari and chipped the paint,”/they said “we don’t like your weed smoke drifting from next door.”‘” A little adversity, at long last, might be just the ticket for good ol’ Andrew. Keep him from getting complacent, you know?
News of the courtroom drama came to us first, as all good things do, from TMZ :
Bynum [...] claims that ever since he moved into his fancy home in Westchester, Calif., more than seven years ago, he’s been constantly harassed by his neighbors, Ramond and Cindy Beckett.
According to his lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Bynum says … the Becketts have objected to his “profession, his race, his friends, his cars and his taste in music.”
When Andrew Bynum was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers, the majority of fans thought that the Sixers would be a much improved team. However, things in Philadelphia have not worked according to plan.
Bynum has yet to play a game for the Sixers and could be out for the entire 2012-13 season. So, although fans thought that they got the better end of the Andrew Bynum-Dwight Howard-Andre Iguodala deal, it seems like they may have actually gotten the worst end of the trade.
However, it is easy to disagree with it in retrospect, because at the time most people thought the deal was great for the Sixers. Philadelphia needed a star to build around for the future, and Bynum seemed like a legitimate option.
Without a star since Allen Iverson, the Sixers have been stuck in mediocrity for the past six seasons. This mediocrity forced the front office to improve the team in the last offseason, and fans thought they achieved that goal by obtaining Bynum.
Although it seemed like the Orlando Magic got, by far, the worst end of the deal, at least they have multiple players who are contributing to their team. Andrew Bynum has yet to contribute anything and may never play a game in a Sixers’ uniform, so at least the Magic cleared some cap space and got some nice young pieces for the future.
I think that an interesting stat to compare how the four teams have been effected by this summer’s blockbuster trade is the win score on basketballreference.com. Iguodala has added one win to the Denver Nuggets. Aaron Afflalo, Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucavic have added .6, .5 and .7 wins to the Orlando Magic, respectively. Dwight Howard has added 1.7 wins to the Los Angeles Lakers, while Jason Richardson has added one win the the 76ers.
It appears that the Lakers clearly got the best end of the deal as they gave up Andrew Bynum, who has contribute zero wins to the Sixers, for Dwight Howard, who has added nearly two wins to their season. However, Jason Richardson’s great play thus far has allowed the Sixers to make up for the loss of Andre Iguodala, as they have both added one win to their respective teams.
However, the Sixers also gave up Vucavic and Harkless who have both made solid contributions to the Orlando Magic this season. In addition, the Sixers gave up draft picks, which also is another negative aspect of the trade for them.
Even after all of this, the most interesting aspect of this Andrew Bynum saga is the fact that Bynum is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season. The Sixers will have a major dilemma on their hands, as they will have to either sign a guy they may not have seen play in over a year or disappoint their fans. At the same time, the Sixers won’t want to fall into another Elton Brand situation, where a bad contract sets them back five years.
The best scenario for the Sixers is for Bynum to come back for at least a month of the season so they can see what they have in him. If they can get a look at him, they will be able to make a much more accurate decision when they evaluate his worth within the franchise.
Although it is too early to tell which team benefited the most and least from this blockbuster trade, it seems as if the Sixers or the Magic received the worst end of this deal. The Sixers had good intentions when they acquired Bynum, but unfortunately it has not worked out so far this season. Hopefully Bynum can get back on his feet and help the Sixers take the next step to become a real contender in the Eastern Conference.
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Prior to the Sixers’ 116-109 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, DiLeo did his best to ward off the rabid locals in the City of Brotherly Love. He told reporters that Bynum will be out indefinitely, that previous timetables (now defunct) had been the products of evaluations from doctors and folks in Bynum’s camp and that he and the organization had been as honest and forthcoming about the All-Star center’s status as possible from the start:
Still, until Bynum slips into a Sixers jersey and sets foot on the hardwood, the questions are bound to continue. When’s he coming back? Will he ever play for Philly? Did the Sixers make a mistake in giving up Andre Iguodala and assorted flotsam to acquire him over the summer?
And, given his history of bad knees and knuckle-headedness, is it in the Sixers’ best interest to retain Bynum once he hits unrestricted free agency this summer?
Chances are, ‘Drew will garner a max contract from someone, be it a five-year deal in the $100-million range from Philly or a four-year pact from another eager suitor. If Brook Lopez, a notoriously poor rebounder, can max out as a restricted free agent after missing the vast majority of a season with a broken foot (the bane of any big man’s existence), then surely, Bynum can expect such royal treatment.
After all, he’ll always be seven feet tall, regardless of the condition of his knees. And his arms will always be long, and he’ll (presumably) always be strong and skilled enough to school his opponents on isolation post-ups.
There’s also no easy way to expunge from memory the fact that Bynum managed to stay healthy for a full(y truncated) season in 2011-12. Nor can one so readily overlook how dominant he was for the Los Angeles Lakers in that time.
In 60 out of a possible 66 games, Bynum averaged 18.7 points (on 55.8 percent shooting), 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in just over 35 minutes. Furthermore, according to 82games.com, ‘Drew was the most efficient “clutch” shooter in the NBA last season.
A stat made all the more remarkable by Kobe Bryant‘s noted ball-hoggery in key moments.
For his efforts, Bynum was voted into the 2012 All-Star Game as the starting center in the Western Conference and earned a spot on the All-NBA second team. At 24, Bynum’s best years appeared to be ahead of him, be they with the Lakers or another organization in search of a centerpiece.
That organization turned out to be the Sixers. At the time, their take from the Dwight Howard trade came off like a coup. In one fell swoop, Philly managed to snag a quality young pivot in an Eastern Conference devoid of them and shed the salary of Andre Iguodala.
Of course, losing an All-Star swingman, All-Defensive performer and Olympic gold medalist of Iggy’s stature is never easy. But the Sixers had been dangling him as trade bait for some time, ever since spending the No. 2 pick in the 2009 NBA draft on Evan Turner.
Certainly, it was assumed, the Sixers did well to turn their surplus into a franchise talent. With a young core of Bynum, Turner, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young, Philly would have the proper pieces around which to construct a contender over the long haul.
With Holiday and Thad Young locked in at reasonable rates and Turner not due for a new deal until 2014, the Sixers would have ample financial leeway for the foreseeable future with which to improve.
The question now is, how much of that should the Sixers commit to a guy, in Bynum, who can’t seem to escape a trip to the bowling lanes without injury and who might spend the entire season in street clothes as a result?
It’s an uncomfortable conundrum, to be sure, and one that Tony DiLeo will have to sort out in due course. Luckily for him (and the Sixers), there’s still ample opportunity between now and July 1 to allow Bynum’s knees to heal and evaluate all aspects of his progress. As bleak as the outlook is at the moment, Bynum may well be back in action before the Sixers have played through the 68 games remaining on their regular season schedule.
If Bynum returns in time to fill Philly’s hole in the middle—and better yet, does so at an All-Star level—then DiLeo‘s decision, if not a no-brainer, won’t be such a difficult one.
And if he doesn’t? It might behoove the Sixers to pay the man anyway. Players of his particular profile are so rare in today’s NBA that to have one could put a good team over the top.
And frankly, re-signing Bynum could be a pre-ordained sunk cost for the Sixers. Should they let Bynum walk (or hobble) in the summer of 2013, they’ll have essentially given up Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a first-round pick for Jason Richardson.
The New Orleans Hornets found themselves in a similar predicament this past summer with Eric Gordon. He was the prize of the package the Hornets received from the Los Angeles Clippers in return for Chris Paul last December.
Gordon missed all but nine games last season with a recurring knee injury. However, he performed quite well in that limited action, particularly toward the end of the campaign, when he averaged 20.6 points on 46 percent shooting in the month of April.
Well enough anyway, to start a brief bidding war between the Hornets and the Phoenix Suns. New Orleans opted to match Phoenix’s max offer sheet to keep EJ (as Gordon’s known) on board. For their expense, the Hornets have seen Gordon in uniform for as many minutes as you and I have played, and don’t expect to have him back until December.
Yet the money can’t yet be judged to have been poorly spent. Gordon’s four-year deal has just begun, and had the Hornets relinquished a scoring guard with All-Star potential after giving up the best point guard in basketball to get him, they might never have heard the end of it.
To a certain extent, the same logic applies to the Sixers with Bynum. It’s the Rod Blagojevich Argument: They’ve got this thing, it’s bleepin‘ golden and they shouldn’t give it up for bleepin‘ nothing. Philly can roll the dice with Bynum and keep him.
Or, if the team deems such a move too risky, work out a sign-and-trade with whichever organization isn’t quite so fearful of ‘Drew’s condition.
The difference between Philly and New Orleans—aside from how much each had to give to get what it got—is that the Hornets planned for a lean year or two, and thus, could afford to wait for Gordon to get himself fit.
The Sixers, on the other hand, are built to win now. They’ve cracked the playoff picture in the East in each of the last two seasons and nearly snuck into the conference semifinals this past spring. They may not be title contenders yet, even with Bynum, but they definitely won’t be in the conversation if he’s gone altogether.
Ultimately, DiLeo‘s calculus could come down to two intertwined factors: who or what else is out there that might provide better value than Bynum for these Sixers, and who or what these Sixers need to maximize the potential of their current core.
Perhaps Philly will find it more prudent to spend lavishly to lure someone like Al Jefferson (unrestricted) or Nikola Pekovic (restricted). Perhaps the Sixers will choose instead to make a run at Dwight Howard or opt for a stopgap like Chris Kaman or former Philly resident Samuel Dalembert. Perhaps DiLeo will determine it best to keep his team perimeter-oriented and spread the wealth more evenly among quality role players in the front court.
Or, perhaps Bynum will crush it once he comes back and all of this conjecture will be rendered moot.
Tony DiLeo can only hope that’s the case. In the meantime, you’ll have to excuse him; he has a crowd of curious reporters to fend off.
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When the team traded away perennial All-Star Andre Iguodala in order to obtain Andrew Bynum, they were taking a risk. They were taking plenty of risks, actually.
Philadelphia was betting that the 25-year-old Bynum, who was fresh off his first All-Star appearance, was going to remain healthy enough to make a lasting impact. It was also betting that he would be able to serve as the cornerstone for the franchise’s future, one that would lead it back to title contention.
Thus far, the Sixers—and Bynum—have come up empty. What was once considered a minor bump in the road has now become a slew of colossal setbacks.
Bynum has yet to grace the hardwood this season, and after a number of vague, bordering on feckless, explanations, it has become clear that isn’t going to change anytime soon. In fact, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports that the big man is not only out indefinitely, but that the Sixers have no idea whether he’ll even play for them at all:
Saying Andrew Bynum’s knees “are not the same” as when they traded for him in August, the Philadelphia 76ers are now not sure when Bynum will be able to play for them — if he plays for them at all.
Two weeks after the team announced they hoped Bynum would be cleared to return to practice on Dec. 10, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said Saturday the team no longer has any timeline for Bynum to return.
“Bottom line is Andrew is out indefinitely,” DiLeo said before the Sixers played the Oklahoma City Thunder. “There are no timelines; we just have to wait and see how he reacts.”
With the news that there is absolutely no discernible timetable for Bynum’s return, the negative feelings continued in Philadelphia. At least when there was a chance for the center to return to action upon the New Year’s inception, there was hope; there was a light at the end of what has become a perpetually caliginous tunnel.
Now, however, we are being led to believe that it will be a miracle if we see Bynum suit up at all this season. By extension, that also means it will be a miracle if we see Bynum suit up for the Sixers ever.
Clearly, Philadelphia is still hoping that the Bynum experiment doesn’t prove fruitless. Prolific centers are hard to find, and if the behemoth can begin to prove his worth by season’s end, the team would likely jump at the chance to re-sign him.
But while there remains a chance that Bynum could return to action and showcase his abilities, the bulk of the damage has already been done.
The Sixers cannot afford to commit to Bynum long term. Regardless of whether he plays this season, and regardless of how well he executes if he does, Philadelphia is in no position to take any more risks. Not on him.
How can the team throw $100 million his way this summer, when his knees have done nothing but crumble under the weight of expectations? How can the Sixers mortgage even more of their future on a big man who has spent more than 25 percent of his career watching from sidelines? How can they, in good conscience, commit to the advancement of uncertainty?
How can this team expect Bynum’s knees to carry them to greatness when they cannot even support his weight at a bowling alley?
They can’t, they won’t and they shouldn’t.
Philadelphia is in no position to take any further risk. It already wagered a cornerstone in Iguodala against the deficient structure that is Bynum’s knees and lost. There’s no reason to add any more insult to injury.
Without Bynum on the payroll, the Sixers have more than $12 million to play with this summer. That likely won’t be enough to buy them the franchise cornerstone their absent big men was supposed to be, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Bynum hasn’t proved to be much of anything.
Since this summer’s blockbuster trade, the Sixers have experienced nothing but turmoil. What was supposed to be a move that would place this franchise amongst the best in the league has now endangered its very being as a relevant entity.
Yet it doesn’t have to be like this much longer. Philadelphia can still save face, and in the process, preserve its future.
All it’s going to take is an admittance that this venture is a wash, that the only thing left to salvage is the cap space the team will gain by parting ways with Bynum.
Yes, it’s difficult to imagine the Sixers having traded Iguodala away for nothing and the “what could have been factor” certainly comes into play here. But so does the “what should have never been” factor.
Which is exactly what the Sixers will be left to contemplate should they opt to do the unthinkable, to execute the reprehensible and commit any more of themselves to the ambivalence of one Andrew Bynum.
All stats in this article are accurate as of November 26th, 2012.
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COMMENTARY | Acquired in the Dwight Howard mega-deal this summer, Andrew Bynum has yet to even practice with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unfortunately for the 76ers, a nagging knee injury and a bowling mishap have kept the seven-footer out of uniform for the entire season so far, with no end in sight.
Now, the 76ers are discussing a long-term deal for the afro-donning superstar. Is that really a good idea? Of course it is!
Philly fans, if you aren’t sold on a long-term deal for Bynum, read this and put your mind at ease.
Contract disputes forced the Lakers to move on from Bynum and turn their attention towards Dwight Howard, which resulted in Bynum being shipped across the country to Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia 76ers were under the impression that they had acquired one of the better big men in the NBA, but things came to a screeching halt when Bynum went down with an off-court bowling injury.
Now, the latest news is that Bynum’s knee issues will keep him out until further notice and there’s no guarantee that he’ll return this season (According to USA Today via Twitter).
76ers announce Andrew Bynum is now out indefinitely. There is no timetable for his return: usat.ly/V5Wbt8
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) November 25, 2012
The 76ers were under the impression that the addition of Bynum would beef up their power game, but now they’re left with nothing other than medical bills and a tough decision.
Bynum will enter free agency following the season, and the 76ers will be forced to decide whether he’s worth another contract, or if they should shop him and perhaps get a small piece of compensation in return.
It’s a difficult decision, but perhaps the 76ers would be better off keeping the faith and giving Bynum a chance to debut in Philly.
Is Andrew Bynum Worth the Wait?
The 25-year-old Andrew Bynum has dealt with a number of injuries throughout his relatively young seven-year career, which understandably forces some to believe that there’s no hope for health and prosperity.
But given his experience on a winning team and his ability to produce when healthy, the 76ers need to force through the frustration and give Bynum another chance.
Though early in the season, the 76ers are sitting with a 7-6 record and appear somewhat competitive in the Atlantic Conference. Nevertheless, it’s clear that they’re still lacking in certain aspects and need to look to the future.
If Philadelphia wishes to produce a championship-caliber team this decade, management needs to take some risks and invest in players who could potentially pay huge dividends in the future.
With Bynum, they already made that investment more than just financially. They sent 2012 first-round draft pick Maurice Harkless to Orlando as part of the trade to acquire Bynum.
If Philadelphia has already surrendered a young and talented prospect in exchange for Bynum, it makes sense that it would try to retain Bynum with another contract, so it doesn’t get nothing out of the deal.
It’s a tough call given the big man’s list of injuries, but it’s a risk the 76ers should be willing to take.
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