Andrew Bynum: Sixers Still Made Smart Move Trading for Center Despite Injury

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2012

Oct 15, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) before the game against the Boston Celtics at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers defeated the Celtics 107-75. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Though it's impossible for the Philadelphia 76ers to avoid feeling some sense of regret about acquiring Andrew Bynum, they shouldn't. Even if it doesn't work out, team still made the best move possible for the interim and the future of the franchise. 

Obviously, the bad vibes of the outcome of the trade are immeasurable. Philadelphia gave up its most recognizable player, Andre Iguodala; two young building blocks with a ton of promise, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless; and a protected first-round pick.

In return, the Sixers got Bynum, a player who was supposed to propel them to title contention; and Jason Richardson, who was considered little more than a salary dump.

Through the first quarter of the 2012-13 NBA season, it's been Richardson who has been an integral part of the Sixers' rotation while Bynum acts as a nightly Armani model. 

The 25-year-old center has sat out the Sixers' first 19 games of the season and doesn't look to be returning anytime soon. Philadelphia had initially hoped he would return to practice on Dec. 10, but Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said there is now no longer a timeline.

"Bottom line is Andrew is out indefinitely," DiLeo said (per ESPN). "There are no timelines; we just have to wait and see how he reacts."

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He's set to get another examination on Dec. 20, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's John N. Mitchell, but it's unlikely the team will have a concrete timetable until 2013. 

There's no denying the ominous tones of that news. Regardless, the knee injury still doesn't change the fact the Sixers made a savvy move trading for Bynum. 

With all of the bowling and hair-related hysterics clouding the picture, it's easy to forget how sensational Bynum was last season. At just 24 years old, he averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per night and had a 23.00 PER, all of which were career highs. Couple that with his 1.9 blocks a game and a 55.8 field goal percentage, and Bynum was on the precipice of stardom. 

More importantly, he stayed healthy. Despite a grueling 66-game slate that saw teams playing on three consecutive nights at times, Bynum played in 60 games and eclipsed 35 minutes per night for the first time in his career.

When factoring in Dwight Howard's back injury, some were even willing to say Bynum was the best piece in the deal. He was already younger, more refined post presence and had seemingly put the injury problems of yesteryear behind him.

We know that isn't the case now. But in August, Philadelphia traded for a mostly healthy seven-footer who was on the brink of becoming one of the preeminent stars in the NBA.

What's more, when taking a closer look at who the Sixers gave up for Bynum, it's obvious they paid mere pittance. Andre Iguodala is a good player, but he was representative of the team's place in NBA purgatory. He's also struggled mightily to adjust this season in Denver, while Evan Turner has ascended into a nearly perfect replacement.

In Orlando, Vucevic is quietly having a great second season, but Harkless is languishing on the end of the bench and doesn't yet look ready for the next level. 

All told, the Sixers essentially traded Vucevic for Bynum and Richardson. All of the other pieces are negligible, barring Harkless turning into a star down the line. 

Even if Bynum never plays a minute for the Sixers and bolts in the offseason, the end result isn't catastrophic. Philadelphia only has $46.9 million in cap commitments for 2013-14, meaning replacing Bynum with another max player isn't out of the question.

Had they failed to pull the trigger, the Sixers' cap space would be dependent on whether Iguodala opted in to his $15.9 million player option for next season. 

Making the Bynum trade opened up cap space and helped possibly take the Sixers out of NBA purgatory, but most importantly, it gave them a chance at having a franchise-altering star. You don't regret taking those opportunities—even when the end result isn't what you envisioned.

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