The Andrew Bynum era in Philadelphia is not off to a great start. And from the looks of things, it’ll be a while longer before it even gets started at all.
Bynum has been officially ruled out for the Sixers’ season opener against Denver on Wednesday, according to a team release (via Philly.com):
“While Andrew and the 76ers are both eager for him to resume game play as soon as possible, given the long regular season and the playoffs, the team intends to act with caution as to the date of his return,” read a statement issued by the team.
“Andrew has already commenced low-impact conditioning,” the statement continued, “and will be re-evaluated by medical personnel on a continuous basis.”
That’s no surprise, of course, considering that Bynum’s soreness in his knee has prevented him from going through even one full practice since coming to Philadelphia. But the part that will sting the organization and its fans is that there’s no estimated time for when Bynum will be able to play, and that’s cause for concern.
Remember, Bynum is an unrestricted free agent after this season. The new collective bargaining agreement says he can make more with his current team than he can if he chooses to leave, so the Sixers have that going for them … which is nice. But it’s only a plus if they’re willing to lock up Bynum with a max contract for five years when that time comes.
When healthy, Bynum is an All-Star center in a league with very few of them. His game has shown continual improvement on both ends of the floor and he would be fully deserving of that contract if he can come back and stay at 100 percent, while performing for the Sixers in the postseason.
If the injury concerns linger, however, Philadelphia will have a very tough decision on its hands. If they let Bynum go in free agency — after trading its only star-level player in Andre Iguodala for him — it’s likely back to rebuilding mode for a young team that had shown a lot of promise of being on the rise over the past couple of seasons.