Andrew Bynum's Career Could Quickly Go the Route of Greg Oden's

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2013

Mar 02, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) looks up at the scoreboard during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Warriors 104-97. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Bynum's season could end up being over before it ever starts, as news has come out that he has been contemplating arthroscopic knee surgery that would end his season.

Andrew Bynum had another setback. Knee swelled up after brief work in practice last week. Said now he doesn't know if he'll play this year

— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) March 1, 2013

As the Philadelphia 76ers slide further and further back in the Eastern Conference, it seems as if his return would mean little in terms of actual basketball, but it would at least give the team some confidence in him and the thought that he is worth paying this summer.

Otherwise, Philadelphia has a question to ask itself. After giving up Andre Iguodala, Mo Harkless and Nikola Vucevic to land this guy who has played zero games for them, should the Sixers cut their losses or completely tie up their future?

If it cuts its losses, Philadelphia is sitting in a precarious spot, as it has essentially rebuilt without meaning to rebuild, but the team is in a decent spot to do so.

With cap space this summer and a few good free agents on the market, there's definitely a chance the Sixers can get something good out of Bynum's departure.

However, if they give him a big contract in the hope that everything's going to be hunky-dory after another surgery, they risk signing a guy who could very well become just another Greg Oden.

Of course, to make that decision the 76ers are going to have to consult like they've never consulted before. If they find that there's a chance Bynum will completely fall apart, then there's definitely a tough decision ahead.

As far as what we know right now, Bynum is in a situation in which he's tentatively planning on having his second knee surgery in less than a year.

For a player who never had injury issues in his past, this would be a mere bump in the road to recovery. However, for a guy like Bynum who has missed multiple seasons' worth of games due to health reasons, he's beginning to look like a lost cause.

Bynum's first serious major knee issue happened in January of 2008 when he dislocated his left kneecap. He would eventually have surgery on the knee to remove some cartilage and clean it up in general.

A year later, Bynum went down with a torn right MCL, finishing the 2008-09 season with just 50 games under his belt.

For the third year in a row, Bynum would injure his lower half, this time in the 2010 playoffs. He postponed surgery until July so he could finish the playoffs and go to the 2010 World Cup before finally getting his right meniscus repaired.

Bynum wouldn't return to action until December the following season, marking the fourth season in a row that a knee injury had impacted the Lakers.

The 2011-12 season was his real breakout year in that he both played well and played in nearly every game. 

Fast-forward about 10 months, and speculation is starting to spread that he has a degenerative condition in his knees that could drastically shorten his career.

Andrew Bynum's knee swelled up again, probably out for the season. Even Greg Oden thinks this guy is way too fragile.

— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) March 1, 2013

At this point, we're going beyond Greg Oden status and starting to look into Brandon Roy territory.

Oden's biggest problem has been constant surgeries, possibly from his body being unable to support his immense frame. His body's falling apart, but there's something left to work with.

What Bynum's rumored to have is sounding a lot like Roy, who has all the desire and drive in the world to get back into the game but is simply incapable of having fully-functioning knees at this point.

If this degenerative knee condition is the real deal, Philadelphia has no choice but to stay away from giving Bynum a big contract. There's way too much risk involved for what could end up being little to no reward.