In one of the most high-profile trades in NBA history, 2012 All-Star Game selections Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Andre Iguodala were all traded to new teams (via ESPN Dallas). In the deal, Howard went to the Los Angeles Lakers, Iguodala was shipped to the Denver Nuggets and Bynum moved to Philadelphia to play for the 76ers.
Three months later, the Sixers are learning why the Lakers abandoned the Bynum project to begin with. After yet another setback in his road to recovery from a knee injury, Bynum has placed Philadelphia in a helpless situation.
No matter how badly they may want out, the Sixers must take the latest setback in stride.
During the month of October, Bynum received an injection of Synvisc to relieve inflammation in his right knee (via ESPN). Just one month later, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that Bynum has suffered a setback in his recovery process.
This time around, it's both knees that are suffering from damage.
Bynum has setback as he says there is swelling and cartilage damage in left knee. Other injury is in right knee— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) November 16, 2012
As for how this impacts his return date, that remains unclear.
Bynum said there is no timetable for return nor that it has changed from what team announced earlier this week.— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) November 16, 2012
No matter how painful it is to accept, the 76ers have no choice but to see this tragedy all the way through. As for those who will debate said belief, the following should offer all the evidence you need.
Where's the Replacement?
Unless the Philadelphia 76ers plan to make a trade to acquire interior depth, their top two centers are Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes. While the two have become quality role players, neither holds a candle to the star that Andrew Bynum has become.
Nor will any other player they trade for.
With no viable replacement in sight, the Sixers would be foolish to do anything but display patience. Bynum is an All-NBA caliber talent with more postseason experience than any other player on the roster.
Even a veteran such as Jason Richardson hasn't made three NBA Finals appearances.
With this being known, why even bother attempting to trade for a replacement center? Should Bynum return in January, he will instantly become the most dangerous offensive player on the roster.
There's simply no logic in neutralizing that possibility before it's given a fair shake.
Pending Free Agent
The Philadelphia 76ers traded franchise player and fan favorite Andre Iguodala to acquire Andrew Bynum. If that's not impetus enough to give Bynum a full season to contribute, how about this?
Bynum is set to become a free agent upon the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
Although speculation suggests that Bynum will re-sign with the 76ers, there is the chance that he doesn't. With that possibility in mind, Philadelphia must do all it can to maximize Bynum's talent while he is under contract.
If the Sixers fail to do so, they'll have lost their leader for nothing.
Built Around Bynum
The truth of the matter is, abandoning the Andrew Bynum project in any way would be a virtual admittance of defeat. The Sixers' roster was constructed in a manner that would maximize Bynum's world-class abilities.
If the Sixers are going to depart from their plan to have the 7'0" center as their franchise player, look for it all to crumble in Philadelphia.
Jrue Holiday is playing beautiful basketball, while Evan Turner is producing at a consistent level. To say that the duo can lead the Sixers to legitimate postseason success, however, is nothing short of blind optimism.
In order to win a title, the team needs Bynum. While they could build in a new direction, that would require their scrapping all previous plans.
With Bynum, they contend. Without him, they falter.
It's time to display patience.