Andrew Bynum has finally returned to some kind of action with the Philadelphia 76ers. Although it is just a bit of practicing, it's a step in the right direction for the big man who hasn't played a single game for Philadelphia since they traded for him last summer.
#SixersTalk Bynum played 5 on 5 yesterday and looked likes guy who had not played in. 9 months Doug Collins said— Dei Lynam (@dlynamCSN) February 23, 2013
#SixersTalk No more practice time this week. Six games between tonight and next Sunday. Bynum not close to playing Collins warned— Dei Lynam (@dlynamCSN) February 23, 2013
Philadelphia effectively traded Andre Iguodala, Mo Harkless and Nikola Vucevic for a season full of hopes that Bynum can eventually return to play some basketball.
If not, they're forced to deal with the question of whether or not he's even going to return next season, after his contract expires.
Should Bynum decide that Philadelphia isn't the place he wants to sit and grow his hair, then it seems as if the 76ers are stuck with their unfortunate trade.
That's not exactly the case if General Manager Tony DiLeo is to be believed.
GM DiLeo says Plan A, which is Bynum, is still the plan but they do have a plan B. Cited flexibility of current cintracts— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) February 22, 2013
Bynum one of handful of NBA players who can "move the needle". And when there's a player who does that "we go after them."— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) February 22, 2013
Whether or not Bynum has been a complete disaster this year, he still has the potential to be a player that swings every game he plays in. There are few big men in the NBA who have the offensive prowess in the post that Bynum has, and having that kind of presence on the floor is a huge step up over what the 76ers have right now.
Alongside a dynamic point guard like Jrue Holiday, and a power forward who can stretch the floor a bit and play in the post like Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia is dying for a third offensive presence to give them the final push.
However, it makes sense for the team to be looking at all options should Bynum no longer be a viable one.
There are a few players who have what the 76ers are looking for in terms of an offensive presence in the post, including Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and David West.
Philly has already locked up their most important free agent of the offseason with the deal they signed Jrue Holiday to back in November, and the only other piece they really have to look into is Nick Young, and perhaps Dorell Wright.
If they decide to keep the cap space they have, they'll be at just a smidge over $46 million, which is $12 million of space below what this year's cap was set at.
With that room, plus a mid-level exception to use that will potentially put them over the cap, but well away from having to pay any kind of luxury taxes, the 76ers have a ton of room to work over the summer.
Not only that, it almost seems as if they'd be better off letting Bynum go, if they aren't 100 percent certain that they have a healthy big man on their hands.
Putting together the right combination of free agents, without killing themselves on a long-term high salary player (which is what every team was trying to avoid at the trade deadline), seems like a perfect Plan B, perhaps even better than Plan A if everything works out.