Back in August, CB contributor Matt Hammond warned of the perils of Bynum. This is that post in its entirety. Maybe I should pay this guy.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with thoughts of commitment here. While conventional wisdom tells you that an extension is the best-case scenario for the guy many are already touting as the savior to Philadelphia basketball, Andrew Bynum, acquired last night in a reported four-team deal centered on Dwight Howard-to-the Lakers and sending Andre Iguodala to Denver, this may amount to little more than a Sixers tryout for Bynum.
One year. That’s all that’s left on his contract, the $16 million team option the Lakers triggered this past spring. After that? He can walk as a free agent.
And, between Bynum’s character concerns and creaky knees, the Sixers might be wise to let that be the case.
They already made good on this opportunity. They already hedged against the possibility that Iguodala would’ve opted out of his contract (player option for 2013-14) and gotten nothing for it. They already filled the core of their defense-first outfit with a guy who averaged 11 boards and 3 blocks per game in last year’s mess postseason. They already cleared the way for 2012 first rounder Arnett Moultrie (Moe Harkless got dealt to Orlando) to get solid minutes early on.
And with Bynum anchoring the Sixers defense, this team has Eastern Conference Finals potential. With Jason Richardson, who’s a helluva lot more than a throw-in, maybe more.
That part of it’s done.
Now comes time for patience, self-control, longview. They have to see how this thing works before making it permanent.
Does Bynum trash team chemistry?
Can he stay healthy?
How’s his attitude? Does it effect his play, or anything else?
What they can’t do? Make a knee-jerk push for an extension now.
The sweetest part of the Bynum deal is his attraction potential, whether he can make Philadelphia a destination for free agents and be the centerpiece of (gasp!) a Sixers duo, or trio.
But that’s not who he is right now, not how he’s regarded across the league. He’s sooner associated with giving Playboy bunnies piggyback rides in a playoffs the Lakers desperately needed him, for clotheslining J.J. Barea in Phil Jackson’s career finale, for airing out apparent “trust issues” this time around.
Those aren’t a few bad moments. They’re a track record, and make Bynum radioactive.
But they can change, and change this season.
That said, while a change of scenery might work wonders on his attitude, it can’t do anything about that knee. To change those appearances, not only does Bynum have to stay on the floor for the vast majority of the Sixers games this season (anything less than 70 is unacceptable), but he has to prove himself a vigilant rehabber.
If not, the Sixers can’t extend him. If you thought Elton Brand was bad, imagine the mushroom cloud in the making here.
One year. That’s all.
Just one year. For now.