Andrew Bynum is one of the great "what if" tales in recent NBA history. He's been an All-Star center, was a solid contributor on two championship teams and is just 26 years old. If only things were that simple.
The controversial Bynum hasn't played more than 65 games in a season since 2007 and a total of 26 since 2012, all of them coming last year in stints with Cleveland and Indiana. He's also dealt with a rash of injuries, mostly to his knees, that have destroyed his career.
When he has been healthy, Bynum has averaged a respectable 11.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. For perspective, among NBA centers last season, those totals would have ranked 13th and 16th, respectively.
Now, likely sensing that his future prospects are bleak and needing to take drastic action to salvage what he can out of his career, Bynum is thinking about undergoing a knee therapy treatment in Germany that would keep him out until the 2015-16 season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
The 7-foot Bynum may not be reuniting with Phil Jackson’s Knicks or any other team next season because he is seriously contemplating sitting out 2014-15 to undergo the Germany-based knee therapy called “The Regenokine Program’’ that would require an extra long rehab, according to his agent David Lee. But he could be in play for the following season.
Berman notes that Regenokine doesn't require surgery and "promotes new cartilage growth through a series of injections," with the procedure being done in Germany by the same doctor who has worked with Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez.
Bynum also has to overcome some well-documented character concerns. In April 2012, Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported the Lakers fined him an undisclosed amount of money for "numerous infractions" that included blowing off a meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchak.
In December 2013, while playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bynum was suspended indefinitely due to conduct detrimental to the team. He was later released by the team, signed with the Indiana Pacers in February 2014 and was released by them in May after appearing in just two games.
No one will argue with Bynum trying to play basketball if it's something he truly wants to do. That hasn't always seemed like the case, as evidenced by all the bridges he's burned.
Finding a team, according to Berman's report, shouldn't be a problem because Bynum's agent, David Lee, is quoted as saying that if his client is healthy, Phil Jackson will be interested.
Will Andrew Bynum ever play another game in the NBA?
The problem with Bynum's plan is that his knees, by his own admission, per The Philadelphia Enquirer, are arthritic. According to the definition on the Mayo Clinic website, all treatment for arthritis really does is reduce symptoms, not cure them.
Bynum is trying to hit a 500-foot grand slam in an effort to improve the health of his knees. The treatment he's considering, per Berman's report, hasn't been approved for use in the United States by the FDA.
Sometimes, drastic health problems require drastic measures. Bynum is exploring all his options to figure out what's in his best interest, but his future in the NBA depends as much on his character growth as it does his ability to move around on the floor.
Until that happens, the conversation around Bynum will be about how he wasted a world of potential due to injuries and immaturity.
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