Andrew Bynum: Predicting How Center's Knee Woes Will Affect Him in Free Agency

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2012

Would you sign Andrew Bynum to a $100 million deal this summer?

Think long and hard before answering, as general managers around the league will be doing if the star center decides to hit free agency rather than re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers. It's a cost-benefit analysis that will be very intriguing after the season.

On the one hand, Bynum is the best center in this league not named Dwight Howard. He averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last year with the Los Angeles Lakers, finally rounding into the dominant player his talent always suggested he would become.

Game-changing centers hardly grow on trees, so it's hard to imagine a team won't break the bank for Bynum if he returns to action. If he returns to the Sixers and looks like a dominant force, he'll get paid (probably from the Sixers, if he chooses to return to Philadelphia).

But when this season will that return come? If it isn't sooner rather than later and Bynum doesn't look like his old self upon his return, will teams really be willing to shell out serious cash for the injury-prone center?

Bynum will soon be undergoing the opening stages of a six-week rehabilitation program according to ESPN, so an optimistic timetable for his return is probably two months or so. But if it is longer, you have to think teams are going to back away from making a huge financial commitment to Bynum.

Wouldn't you?

When you sign a player to a $100 million contract, you're making a huge financial commitment and essentially signaling that your franchise will be headlined by that player. That isn't chump change, and if you have any reservations about the player, you can't take the risk of investing so much of your future on one player.

And Bynum hasn't exactly proven to be the most mature player over the years. He's proven on multiple occasions he has some growing up to do, and that could hurt him as well.

At the end of the day, it's this simple—if Bynum returns to the Sixers in two months or so, plays dominant ball and looks like the player who was so good in 2011-12, he'll get paid in a big way. End of story.

But if this injury lingers, it could be a very interesting summer for Mr. Bynum. His free-agent cash grab could turn out to be far less lucrative than he was expecting. It's all about cost-benefit analysis, and right now the cost seems to supersede the benefit when it comes to signing Bynum.

 

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