In the smallest glimmer of hope the Philadelphia 76ers have had all season long, All-Star center Andrew Bynum has FINALLY returned to practice.
While it’s certainly a step in the right direction, coach Doug Collins still believes Andrew is a long way away from being able to play.
“He looked like a guy who hadn’t played in nine months,” Collins said. “I don’t think any bells and whistles should be sent off that he’s close to playing.” (ESPN.com)
Bynum has yet to suit up for the 76ers after being dealt to the team in the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
This is a nice change of pace, as the only time we ever hear his name in the news as of late, is when he’s injuring himself playing bowling or altering his hair in some ridiculous fashion.
Philadelphia is 22-31 on the year, which is good enough for ninth in the Eastern Conference. They are currently 3.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot. Luckily for the 76ers, they are competing in the East, as their record would only be 12th in the West.
It could be a lot worse, I suppose.
If Andrew Bynum had knees made of pure titanium that would never, ever bruise, Philadelphia probably wouldn’t be as worse for wear as they currently are.
He’s a game-changer in every sense of the word. A 7-footer whose effective on both offense and defense is a rare commodity these days, making Bynum all the more valuable. He will become a free-agent at the end of the season, so there is still a chance that he may sit out for the remainder of the year and bolt during the summer without ever having played a game.
I can’t fault the organization for taking a chance on Andrew Bynum, who when healthy, is a top-25 player in the NBA. They weren’t exactly a powerhouse before they made the trade, so why not roll the dice?
None of that matters though, because he’s not healthy. He hasn’t been healthy all year. His health has been a major red flag his entire career, having played at least 65 games in just two of his eight seasons.
Would the franchise be in better shape had they not made the move?
Probably. At least for this season.
Andre Iguodala is putting up 13 points, five rebounds and four assists for the fifth-best team in the Western Conference, and second-year player Nikola Vucevic is averaging a double-double of 12.3 points and 11.4 rebounds (fourth in NBA) for the Orlando Magic. The 76ers would be a playoff team with their roster last 2012 still aboard. They wouldn’t make a lot of noise, but they would be right in the thick of things nonetheless.
Trading for Bynum offered hope that competing with the Miami Heat and moving up the Eastern Conference ladder was a distinct possibility.
Now, we just don’t know. There is a cloud of doubt over this franchise that won’t fade away until he plays.
If he plays.
I’m not looking at the faults of management for now, because believe me, there are a lot that have set this team back. I’m strictly looking at Andrew Bynum.
His bad knees, his poor effort and commitment to rehabbing, his puzzling demeanor and lackadaisical attitude have poisoned the 76ers.
They tried. They really did.
They have the money to re-sign him if they choose to go down that path in July. Considering what they gave up to get him, they better hope that they do.
Really though, would you blame them if they didn’t?
As harsh as it may sound, Andrew Bynum is toxic to the Sixers. This whole dilemma reeks of something fierce.
After today, Philadelphia will have just 24 games left on the schedule.
Patience is wearing thin and time is running out.