Why Andrew Bynum Is a Sunken Cost for Reeling Philadelphia 76ers

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2012

Oct 15, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) before the game against the Boston Celtics at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers defeated the Celtics 107-75. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The situation surrounding Andrew Bynum is slowly evolving from a concerning issue to an extreme disappointment as the Philadelphia 76ers continue to struggle offensively.

Word is that Andrew Bynum isn't any closer to officially suiting up, but he's not exactly further away either. General manager Tony DiLeo's official stance is that Bynum is "improving, but it's still the same situation." 

Bynum is going through low-impact conditioning, but he won't start any basketball-related activities until his knee is pain-free.

So it seems for now the Sixers are stuck with Bynum looking goofy in a suit rather than playing with an edge on the court, and that's got to really depress Sixers fans.

Philadelphia is sitting at 1-2 on the season with a single win over a Nuggets team that didn't even look to be half themselves on opening night. Otherwise they've fallen on consecutive nights to the New York Knicks in eerily similar games.

What's most concerning about Philadelphia is that their offense is basically nonexistent. There's no way they can win a game unless they hit an exorbitant number of jump shots and play stellar perimeter defense, a combination that doesn't seem likely to pop up often.

They've shot just 37 percent from the floor, putting them in dead last in the league, and it's not even close. Washington and Sacramento sit a full 2.1 percent ahead of them, and both of those teams have won one game combined, so it's not great company to be in. 

Even the team's poor start isn't the biggest of their worries at this point. No, they've got bigger worries on down the road.

Let me pose a question first, and it's completely hypothetical: If Andrew Bynum were to miss the entire season for some reason, Philadelphia would still have to sign him to a maximum contract, wouldn't they?

It would be crazy for Philadelphia to deem Bynum to be too risky to re-sign after trading away their best player and two fine-looking young guys to get him. Basically they should already factor in a five-year deal for Bynum approaching $100 million.

For a guy who's going to play all year long and average more than 20 points a game for your team from the post, that's a great investment, but for a guy with recurring knee problems, not so much.

If this were any kind of upper-body injury Bynum was dealing with, or even a back problem, it wouldn't be as big a concern, but when big guys' knees start to go, it's an extremely difficult event to reverse.

So what do the Sixers have as best- and worst-case scenarios? Well, there's a huge range there.

Obviously, the best case is that Bynum comes back and gets their offense rolling. He gives them real dimension on offense and even makes their defense a bit better, and they roll on to the playoffs, no problem.

But, the absolute worst they could imagine is the knee issues cropping up all season long, holding them just out of the playoffs, giving them a mediocre draft pick and no playoffs.

A wishy-washy season most likely means Bynum's value stays high enough that he'll demand a maximum contract on the open market, meaning Philly is handcuffed to him, unless they want to try building through free agency.

Even with Bynum's injury, it's not fair to say that they made a bad trade. They made a risky trade for sure, but it takes guts if you want to win a title. And even still, Bynum could end up healing and being as good as ever. Until that time comes, however, there's a lot to wonder about this Sixers team.