Andrew Bynum didn’t play a single game for the Sixers last season, after coming over in a trade that sent Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets.
Knee injuries prevented Bynum from ever taking the court in a Philadelphia uniform, and his time with the franchise became more contentious as the season went on. He finally underwent surgery in March, which officially shut down any possible hope that he’d play for the team at any point last season.
The complicated part for the Sixers now is that Bynum enters this summer as an unrestricted free agent. When healthy, he’s an All-Star big man that a team can build around for the future. But it’s impossible to predict how his knees will hold up under the load of a regular season schedule at this point, so shelling out big dollars over several years is going to be a risky proposition for any team lining up to try and secure Bynum’s services.
That decision won’t be made any easier with the knowledge that Bynum is expected to be back on the court by the time training camps open this fall.
Bynum’s agent, David Lee, told The Associated Press on Monday night there’s “not a concern in the world” that Bynum will be ready for training camp.
He also said he had no conversations with the Sixers and does not expect any kind of deal with the team before the 7-foot center becomes a free agent on July 1.
Bynum did not receive an enthusiastic endorsement from new general manager and president Sam Hinkie at his introductory press conference in May.
“I think of Andrew like the thousands of other young men walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents that have potential to play NBA basketball,” Hinkie said. “He is one of those. I’m duty bound to consider them and look at them. All of them.”
It’s understandable that the Sixers might be skittish about signing Bynum long-term, especially considering how this past season played out. But they’re really in a no-win situation.
If Philly lets Bynum walk, then they got nothing in exchange for an asset like Iguodala, and are left trying to rebuild essentially from scratch. If they give Bynum a huge contract and his knees turn out to be a recurring, semi-permanent issue, then they were stupid for doing so, and should have known better. Finally, if Bynum leaves as a free agent and returns to his All-Star form with another team, the Sixers will be criticized for allowing a building block like that escape.
There are no easy decisions surrounding Bynum where the Sixers are concerned.