Is Bynum’s Season On The Brink?

HANG TIME, Texas — Never mind all the wisecracks about Andrew Bynum’s head being in the gutter when he decided that bowling was a good idea for a patient with knee problems.

What was already a difficult situation for the 76ers with no end in sight continues to get messier and filled with more mystery.

Jason Wolf of the Delaware News Journal spoke with an internationally respected orthopedic surgeon who is not a member of Bynum’s medical team and has not examined his MRIs, but said the information that has been released publicly points to a diagnosis of osteochondritis dessicans lesions.

The surgeon said that if this is the case, there’s a small chance that Bynum’s knees could heal sufficiently on their own in time for him to return for the playoffs this season, but called that scenario “wishing on a star.”

“While they can heal non-operatively, they can take a long time [four to six months] to heal, and in adult athletes, frequently they will require surgical intervention at some point if there isn’t adequate healing within the first several months of treatment,” the surgeon said.

He added that if the 25-year-old returns to the court too early and the lesions become large enough, the condition could become career threatening. The surgeon spoke on condition of anonymity because Bynum is not his patient, but this probable diagnosis, given the player’s symptoms and treatment thus far, is backed up by reams of medical literature.

“I’m a little bit worried, bluntly, that it’s more advanced and the guy probably does need surgery. But if he needs surgery, then the year is completely written off,” the surgeon said. “But if he doesn’t have surgery and they think they can demonstrate healing in about four months, then he could potentially still come back for the playoffs.

“That’s what it sounds like they’re thinking about.”

The minds of Sixers management must be swimming in so many different directions each day as they wait for the latest medical updates and wonder if the player they are paying $16.5 million for this season will ever play.

On the bright side, Sixers coach Doug Collins does another of his mix-and-match, hustle-and-scratch jobs with a hungry, undersized lineup that has produced three straight wins and a 7-4 record.

But that’s exactly the kind of scenario the Sixers were trying to avoid after claiming the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference standings and then knocking off the depleted Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. They made the deal that sent their leading scorer, Andre Iguodala, to Denver for the 7-foot-2, 285-pound Bynum because they knew hustle could only get them so far. It was the big man in the middle — a former All-Star with the Lakers — who could elevate Philly to the level of contender.

Bynum, who has a history of knee troubles, was a gamble for Philly from the outset. The Sixers were hoping he’d be healthy and that a starring role with them could convince him to sign a max-level contract next summer as a free agent. But almost from the day that he was officially introduced to Philly in the shadow of the Liberty Bell, that plan began growing cracks.

Bynum has already undergone Orthokine blood-spinning treatment in Germany during the offseason and the timetable for his debut with the Sixers keeps getting pushed back.

It should be noted that Sixers medical staff has in no way said that Bynum is lost for the season. General manager Tony DiLeo repeats that the club has hopes to have an update on Bynum’s status by mid-December.

Yet, acccording to the surgeon contacted by the Delaware News Journal:

If there isn’t adequate healing in his right knee by mid-December or possibly January, it is likely that he will need surgery. Should the right knee exhibit adequate healing by that point, Bynum would still have to worry about the left knee, which he confirmed Sunday began swelling after bowling last week.

“It would be another two months before he could eventually be at a point where he could return [from the injury to his right knee], so now they found something in his left knee, so add four months to that,” the surgeon said. “You’re looking at around the end of March or April as potentially the earliest that he could come back, assuming that the MRIs show healing.”

That’s when a difficult decision ratchets up to the level of one that could hamstring or cripple the franchise for years.

If Bynum needs surgery and misses the entire season, the Sixers would seem in no position to still offer the maximum contract to keep him as their centerpiece of the future. Yet they can hardly let him simply walk out the door and have nothing in return for Iguodala.

26 Comments

  1. Lakers-R-Us says:

    I actually hate it! The Sixers deserve to have him playing and healthy. I’m a Laker fan but I hate seeing this happen to them. I love Bynum and I hope he plays sooner than they think. He will be a force in Philly; believe me.

  2. jam says:

    bynum i hope you return soon. GOD bless you

  3. Hm says:

    Do whatever is necessary to treat this possible diagnosis of OD (though we can’t be sure if that is it, because it’s rare) and then as rehab he should do bodyweight exercises to get those joints bulletproof. Then come back twice as strong. That takes time and discipline though.

  4. Pure says:

    Why don’t they just amnesty him in early March to free up the cap space for next season. Instead of paying him $16.5 mil for sitting on the bench they could sign Josh Smith to a max contract, a guy who can both produce on the court and draw thousands of fans to arena to watch him putting on a show!!

    • SixersNation says:

      We can’t, we already used it on Brand.

      Besides, we can let him walk, and use the cap space to sign another big like Milsap or J Smoove

  5. Lakers#1 says:

    What has Bynum been up to this summer? He played the entire season with the Lakers with no injuries. I wonder what kind of activities he has been doing during the vacation. Why has he been bowling when he is injured?

    It is a shame because I think he would dominate the East big time!

  6. Celtics Vivek says:

    can the sixers say bynum failed medicals and return him ? that would be fun. lol.

  7. Bynum Hater says:

    No Bynum, we will not leave you along. Are you going to turn into the green guy and star smashing everything if we don’t, think not.

  8. Andrew Bynum says:

    Leave me alone.

    • shalom el says:

      Bynum you don’t know me at all. But I am a 51 year old man and I just want to say “Live your life the way you see it.”
      When life deals with us all, critics just come with the it.
      Remember you do not control the critics. They are eating off you no matter how your life goes.
      I believe if you want to be the best center in basketball, you can score 100 points as many times as you “will” yourself to do it because no one can stop you. You have already proven that by becoming an NBA Allstar.
      If you come back, I believe your statistics will be as good as you “will” them to be.
      And your team will win the NBA Championship as many times as you “will” yourself to win it.
      If you choose to play, you will be a comback player of the year, regular season MVP, playoff MVP and NBA Hall of Fame Inductee. I look forward to seeing your NBA Hall of Fame Induction speech if that is on your NBA agenda.

    • jodywithay says:

      ignore the haters, u a baller, just show em in the next couple years. u a human being and u can do as you want. no one here making money like that or got game or size so wtf do we know.

  9. manny says:

    Its a risky business but if you dont take the risk you will never turn a mediocre team into a contender. Look at the spurs taken risk on veterans and they always pay off. Miami took a risk on Miller with his bad back and Ray Allen. Sometimes it works out fine and it pays off, regardless the sixers had to shake things up they have been playing safe for way to long.

    • Out of you mind says:

      Ray allen and mike millers are role players…. VERY GOOD ROLE PLAYERS but role players nonetheless… Miami in no way shape or form is a mediocre team w/o the two…
      and a max level contract risk isnt a risk THEY NEED to make… they can ship bynum to dallas n get mayo n some pieces.. or to cleveland and get a few pieces, sign Oden if u want to take a risk…

    • glyceman says:

      atill, no one’s taking a chance if that someone’s salary is that high

  10. Coach Smith says:

    Well, it looking like A. Bynum will be missing another year of basketball. It”s too bad for the Sixers organization and Philly fan base. Like Los Angele’s fans in the past few years hoping, Bynum would be able to even show up for a game dressed to play. So, where to you go from here, Philly. I say, write this year off, find the best medical team to nurse him back to health.
    Evaluate his progress during his time, forget about a max. contract but make it conditional on him coming back 100%, next year. If not, say good bye and move on. I don’t believe another NBA team will offer him a max. deal, at that point. Also, in the mean time, look for another big. Philly, you already lost AI for him, cut your losses early and move on, if he can’t produce.

  11. 16going417 says:

    Bynum is a joke. This makes me glad the Lakers got rid of him. I would rather have someone who cannot make a free throw vs. someone who just sits on the bench all season long because he does dumb things off the court.

    He is going to end up like Yao. Hope Bynum finds a job flipping burgers or something next year, because only a dumb NBA team would take a chance on him again.

  12. W/E says:

    Andrew Bynum,Brandon Roy and the rest please retire,theres no point in coming back when your injuries are clearly so serious , no matter how young you are when ur body starts becoming that fragile it is impossible to keep playing in such a mentally and physically demanding league as the NBA consistently, you are just harming your team and ur selves as well.

  13. Game Time says:

    76ers won’t even make the playoffs if he doesn’t play at least half the season, and they shouldn’t have to pay a dime for his sorry behind.

  14. Kamote says:

    And the 76ers lost AI for nothing, Now in hindsight, the Magic was smart enough not to have their hopes high on Bynum replacing DH… although if they got rid of Hedo’s contract and just didn’t resign Nelson, then the Orlando would’ve won the GM of the Year Award.