Andrew Bynum's Continued Absence Hurts Star Center More Than Sixers

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 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

I know how this looks. It looks as though the Philadelphia 76ers were bamboozled into trading Andre Iguodala and a first-round pick to land Andrew Bynum, who might not even play for the team this season and very well could sign elsewhere in the offseason.

In other words, it doesn't look good for the Sixers.

But when you peel back the layers and really look at the possibility of Bynum barely playing this year, it's the star center who comes out of this situation looking worse than the Sixers.

Let's start by looking at this purely at the perspective of the Sixers. Even if Bynum doesn't stick around, Philly needed to make a change. With Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, the Sixers had an array of top-notch complementary players, but no real stars. Making a deal to land the second-best center in the league made sense in that regard.

And Iguodala had a big contract. Dumping that and freeing up cash to either retain Bynum or make another splash in free agency was the right move.

Even if Bynum doesn't re-sign, it was time for Iggy to go. He wasn't terribly popular with the fans, never fit the role of top gun in the offense and was being overpaid for filling the role of excellent defensive stopper, good athlete and above-average scorer.

The Sixers needed a go-to guy, and Iguodala was an elite role player.

No, it is Bynum who could suffer from this lengthy injury. For one, the Sixers own his Bird's Rights, meaning they're the only team that can offer him a five-year, max deal. If Bynum has burned bridges in Philly, he's cost himself money and security.

But one wonders if Bynum's shenanigans will limit his market value as well. Realistically, a center with his potential is going to get paid, but will he have as many suitors as he might have if he were more mature? Will he find he won't get to choose his destination, as teams balk at his huge asking price?

We already know he was out bowling with a knee injury and caused more damage, which may have been innocent ignorance but also exhibited a lack of judgement. Bowling puts strain on the knees, and Bynum should have at least consulted someone before taking on the activity. 

And his immaturity is hardly a new story. There was the three-point shooting fiasco last season, and who could forget Bynum elbowing JJ Barea in the playoffs two years ago after the Los Angeles Lakers were en route to being swept by the Dallas Mavericks?

Now, he's engaged in a lawsuit and subsequent counter-suit by his neighbors, who have accused him of marijuana use, letting his dogs run free around the neighborhood, cranking his video games and music to incredibly loud levels and even waving a gun around at them, amongst other things.


At some point, you have to think many teams will say, "You know what, this guy is talented, but I don't trust him enough to pay him as a franchise player. He's not worth the investment."

Remaining in Philadelphia is still the best option for both Bynum and the Sixers. He can earn the most lucrative contract there, he grew up in New Jersey, Doug Collins is the right man to keep Bynum focused and he'll be the center of the offense in Philadelphia. It's a good scene.

But if nothing else, the Sixers took a chance, dumped a big contract and still have a nice foundation in place with young talent. 

It's Bynum who has the most to lose in this situation. His immaturity and lingering injury concerns could cost him some serious cash this offseason. He had a good thing in Philadelphia, and if he's blown that he may not find a better alternative in the market.

And all to go bowling. He may rue that decision for years to come.

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