HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Anyone reading between the lines two weeks ago should not have been surprised by tonight’s news that Andrew Bynum‘s season is over before it ever started and that he’ll need surgery on both of his ailing knees.
Bynum’s fate was sealed months ago, during training camp, when we all learned that the knee issues that have plagued him throughout his career were flaring up again after that blockbuster summer trade that sent the Los Angeles Lakers’ big man problem to Philadelphia for the Sixers to deal with.
The jaw-dropping part of this whole mess is anyone being shocked that it’s come to this: Bynum’s tenure with the Sixers consisting of not one single second of actual game action in Philly.
“After many months of rehabilitation and consulting with numerous doctors, Andrew and the doctors treating him determined that this is the best course of action at this point,” Sixers General Manager Tony DiLeo said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor and evaluate his status moving forward.”
Bynum is an unrestricted free agent this summer. That’s a Bynum-filled headache the Sixers don’t need after paying him $16.9 million this season to model his wardrobe and throwback hair styles on the bench while his teammates suffered through a brutal season that was supposed to be filled with so much more.
DiLeo and the Sixers would be wise to let someone else take the next multi-million dollar risk on Bynum’s shaky knees. They’ve already poured more than enough money down that drain.
That offseason trade, a blockbuster 12-player deal involving four teams that had Sixers fans dreaming about being contenders, wound up being productive for everyone but the Sixers. Dwight Howard‘s season with the Lakers has been rough, but they are in playoff position right now and at least have hope for the future. Andre Iguodala has adjusted well in Denver, playing a similar role to the one he played for the Sixers, helping the Nuggets to a playoff spot and a 12-game win streak. And Orlando has made good use of Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and Arron Afflalo.
The Sixers got a wanna-be dominant big man with bilateral knee bone bruises that have bothered him all season, a one-time All-Star with knees that might never support a bid for a second, third, fourth or fifth All-Star nod. A September trip to Germany for the Orthokine therapy injections that worked wonders for Kobe Bryant, and more recently Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams, did absolutely nothing for Bynum.
A Sixers team that was supposed to be primed for a climb up the ladder in the Eastern Conference playoff chase after a surprise run to the conference semifinals last season has suddenly turned into the poster child for thinking and long and hard before you act on the next so-called “blockbuster” deal.
Bynum’s absence has taken a toll on all involved, including Sixers coach Doug Collins, who reached his boiling point late last month after a loss to Orlando when he vented his frustrations about how things have unfolded.
“The team that we tried to put together we’ve never seen,” Collins said after that Orlando loss. “And so I think, when you take a huge piece away from it, your warts show.”
Direct shots at Bynum and the summer deal gone wrong were included in his 10-minute rant.
“We made a huge deal. And we have nobody playing as part of that deal,” Collins continued. “How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic, and have nothing in return playing? That’s tough to overcome, right? That’s just the facts. I’m not looking for any out. But that’s the facts. Nik Vucevic had 19 rebounds tonight. Spencer [Hawes] had one. I think Lavoy [Allen] had two.”
Promising young point guard Jrue Holiday has done his part. He became an All-Star this season and kept the Sixers afloat for a while, when everyone still believed that Bynum would actually hit the floor at some point.
But like everyone else in Philly, Holiday got burned by the Bynum deal.
And the ashes will blow through the franchise for a while, kicking up every time someone mentions Bynum’s name or the blockbuster that went up in smoke on the Sixers.