While the Philadelphia 76ers’ plans for the big man beyond this season are still up in the air, said plans could potentially become even more difficult to map out.
According to Jason Wolf of USA Today, Bynum is contemplating whether or not to have season-ending surgery on his knees:
Philadelphia 76ers general manager Tony DiLeo said that Andrew Bynum is considering arthroscopic surgery on his balky knees and that the organization has yet to decide whether to attempt to sign the one-time All-Star center once he becomes a free agent after this season.
Arthroscopic surgery to clean the loose cartilage out of Bynum’s knees would ensure he does not play for the Sixers this season. Philadelphia entered Sunday night’s contest trailing Milwaukee by 5½ games for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with 25 games to play.
Building around Bynum remains the team’s preferred option, if he’s healthy.
“He is Plan A,” DiLeo said Sunday before the Sixers played the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center, speaking publicly for the first time since Bynum announced a setback in his rehab from what could be career-threatening knee injuries on Friday.
For Bynum, Tony DiLeo’s words of almost encouragement can be construed as a source of comfort. That said, Bynum isn’t just approaching a crossroads with the Sixers, but his entire career.
What if the arthroscopic surgery doesn’t work? What if he suffers even more setbacks in his next rehab? What if his “career-threatening” injuries are just that, career-threatening?
If this next attempt to fix what aren’t just fragile, but broken knees, fails, Bynum’s entire career becomes one giant question mark. Considering that he’s spent the better part of a decade shrouded in some level of ambiguity already, that’s unnerving.
And even if he gets the surgery and it’s deemed a “success,” can Philly really invest tens of millions of dollars in such a fragile body?
DiLeo says that Bynum is still “Plan A,” but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit I believed he was exploring other options. Not just in case Bynum’s knees aren’t worthy of a max contract, but as an “instead” type avenue.
Remember, the Sixers have yet to see Bynum suit up this season, and it’s becoming more and more likely that they won’t. Tossing such a hefty sum of money his way nearly blinded is a gamble. A big one. There’s no guarantee that even if he returns to the court, he returns as the All-Star he was in 2012.
On some level, Philly could just feel pot-committed at this point. The Sixers handed over numerous assets (most notably Andre Iguodala and Nikola Vucevic) in exchange for Bynum, and to deem him a bust now would be to admit that they failed.
Personally, at this point, I’d embrace said “failure” over the ambivalence of Bynum’s knees. Philadelphia can let him walk and just play around with the $10-plus million in cap space his departure creates. Otherwise, re-signing him is a mistake the team could come to regret for the next four-to-five years.
But I digress. The point is Bynum may or may not have season-ending surgery; his season may be grounded permanently.
Though I’m not sure you can ground something that never got off it in the first place.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.