Photo: Sixers PR man Mike Preston
Great article today by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. He wrote about Andrew Bynum’s knees, two objects that may define the next half decade for the Sixers.
Windhorst looks beyond just this year, wondering what the tipping point is for the Sixers to not sign Bynum, a free agent after this season, to a long-term deal. How much of a risk will they be willing to take?
But with Bynum's ongoing knee issues, that's not a simple decision — even if he proves to be the game-changer the Sixers believe they've landed.
This, of course, is hardly a new situation in the NBA. The New York Knicks bet on Amar'e Stoudemire's knees in 2010, giving him a $100 million contract even though no insurance company wanted to back the risk. The New Orleans Hornets bet on Eric Gordon's knee last summer, matching a max contract offer from the Phoenix Suns, who were willing to make a bet of their own. Both players are out with knee injuries and have uncertain futures.
There are examples that go back decades. Just Google Brandon Roy.
It was different management and different ownership, but the Sixers themselves recently have been bitten by risky investments. In 2008, they gave Elton Brand an $80 million deal as he was coming off an Achilles injury. He was never the player they thought they were getting, and the new management cut him this past summer through the amnesty provision.
The Los Angeles Lakers were concerned enough about Bynum's knees that in 2009 they were willing to give him only a three-year guaranteed deal, even though they were sold on his potential. Then in August, they were happy to trade him for Dwight Howard, a player coming off major back surgery, because Howard was considered less of a risk.
Obviously, the Sixers need Bynum to be successful this season. That much is clear after watching what looked like a shitty version of Villanova’s motion offense in two losses to the Knicks (something that was probably quite familiar to Maalik Wayns). But Windhorst thinks the trade will be judged in large part by whether the Sixers wind up re-signing Bynum, not just on his performance this season. That’s in contrast (I think) to how most of us feel, which is: even though a Bynum disaster and one-year rental would be a disappointment (I’m banking on this), this summer’s trade would still prove to be a net gain – X minus Andre Iguodala equals something greater than zero – that would, at the very least, allow the Sixers some flexibility in the offseason.
Anyway, the Bynum thing is going national (surprise!), and that will continue to be the case until he, you know, practices.