Let’s face it, the Philadelphia 76ers have not had a superstar since the Allen Iverson era. Sure, there were players like Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller – but they didn’t put butts in the seats.
This summer marked the end one of the darkest times in Sixers history when Philadelphia pulled off a trade that landed three point extraordinaire Jason Richardson and perhaps the best center in the game, Andrew Bynum.
It added an excitement to the team that hadn’t been seen in nearly a decade, though there was one little stipulation – the 25-year-old Bynum had ongoing knee issues. The knee threat seemed lost amidst the excitement that came from his August introduction at the Constitution Center in downtown Philly, where over 1,000 fans showed up to see the team’s new addition.
But then the minor knee issues began.
When Bynum was announced last week on opening night, he received a roar from the hometown crowd that’s been missing in recent years – only he wasn’t wearing a jersey. Instead he was in a suit, having yet to even participate in a team practice. Sixers fans might still be in the swooning phase but that will start to fade with each day Bynum remains sidelined.
Philadelphia just doesn’t want to see Bynum suffer a fate similar to Elton Brand’s tenure with the Sixers. Brand was another risk the team decided to take a chance on back in 2008, signing the power forward to an $80 million deal, despite the fact that he was coming off an achilles injury. Brand never developed into what the Sixers hoped and he was cut this past summer.
Bynum is currently in the final year of a three-year deal and will become a free agent at the end of the season – meaning the Sixers can cut their losses if Bynum doesn’t pan out thanks to knee issues. That would mean the trade to get Bynum was simply a waste. We can’t help but wonder why the Los Angeles Lakers only signed him for three years back in 2009 and why the team was quick to ship him off for an older, just as good player in Dwight Howard – who was coming off major back surgery.
The Sixers might have put themselves in a little bit of a pickle.
On one hand, the team has a superstar that generates excitement, sells tickets and makes the team a legitimate contender; but on the other hand he has already had surgeries on both knees and is out indefinitely – despite the original estimate of three weeks in October. The team is invested in Bynum and hopes to have the franchise player they traded for, instead of just a rental.
It’s easy to tell he’s been out of the lineup this season.
After beating the Denver Nuggets convincingly on opening night, Philadelphia dropped its next two games – both to the New York Knicks – in embarrassing fashion. Philadelphia is a team with only five returning players from last season. It takes time to gel, so pressing the panic button at this point would be laughable. Coach Doug Collins will need time but if his center doesn’t get healthy, the Sixers won’t be able to compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference like many people believed back in August.
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