Andrew Bynum's Injury Makes Max Contract Unthinkable

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2012

Nov 16, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers defeated the Jazz 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The concern around Andrew Bynum is continuing to grow in the days following the announcement that the Philadelphia 76ers big man is now having issues with his left knee. A bone bruise in his right knee has kept him out of action to this point.

Cartilage in each of Bynum's knees is in a weakened state (via ESPN), which basically means his return to basketball is more of a waiting game than anything else.

The center that Philadelphia traded Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a first-round pick for is looking far from a cornerstone to build around.

This is nothing new for the 76ers.

Back in 1986, Philadelphia traded Moses Malone, Terry Catledge and two first-round draft picks for Washington Bullets big man Jeff Ruland.

Rather than knee troubles, Ruland's feet hindered him. He broke his foot in 1985 and then spent the 1986 season playing through pain. That offseason, Philly traded for him knowing full well his history of foot troubles, and Ruland went on to play just 18 games for the 76ers (just five in 1986-87).

His career was nowhere near what it should have been due to his multiple foot injuries. Hopefully the similarities end when Bynum returns to the court.

Should Bynum have come into this season completely healthy, a max contract would make sense. Now, it seems reckless to offer so much money to a guy who looks injury prone on a good day and downright battered and broken on a bad day.

Philadelphia is going to have to make a decision at the end of the season.

Bynum was supposed to be the future of the 76ers. Because they gave up so much for him, keeping him should be a top priority.

But is it wise to make a five-year, approximately $100 million investment for a player with such injury baggage? He's played in 60 games or more just twice and has undergone knee surgery three times.

His most recent setback could be the worst so far; he has now hurt both of his knees, so his value is certainly falling. If Bynum doesn't look 100 percent healthy at the end of the season, Philadelphia may need to cut bait.