If nothing else, the Andrew Bynum situation has taught us that much.
Bynum is a 25-year old center who owns several championship rings and All-Star appearances. He’s a 7-footer with athleticism, a decent touch near the basket and a knack for altering shots.
So when the Lakers made their push to land Dwight Howard last summer, the 76ers lunged in the chase for Bynum, almost at the last minute.
Bynum, it was said, was ready to emerge from Kobe Bryant’s shadow in LA. Bynum, it was believed, was ready to be a No. 1 option. He wanted to front his own band, to prove he could turn an also-ran into a true blue title contender.
So the Sixers made the deal for Bynum.
And they have never been the same.
First, it was learned Bynum would miss training camp with a bum knee. Later, it was reported he suffered the injury while … bowling.
Next were hints and allegations Bynum didn’t really even care about basketball.
Instead of becoming the next dominant center, Bynum turned into the NBA’s longest running lousy joke. Of course, it was no fault of his own. He’s not the first man to come through the league with peanut butter and jelly for knees.
Now, those knees (yes, both) are undergoing a procedure. Media types have reported Bynum’s knees are being “cleaned out” — although no one has explained what that actually means.
But the only thing that matters is Bynum is out for the season. We assumed it before. We know it now.
That brings the number of games Bynum has played for the Sixers to zero.
That leaves the Sixers, who have mostly been a mess all season, in a major jam.
Bynum becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Based on his years with the Lakers, he’s a max-contract kind of guy. Based on this season and the stricter collective-bargaining agreement … well, not so much.
On the bright side, without Bynum, the Sixers will have cleared a hefty amount of salary-cap space. They will then be able to pursue other free agents. That sounds precisely like the plan.
“I think that we’re at a point where Andrew had to get something done,” Sixers coach Doug Collins told Philadelphia reporters. “I feel bad that I didn’t get a chance to coach him this year.”
As for Bynum, he’ll certainly draw plenty of interest. He may even still be in line for a max contract — although any team that gives him one runs the risk of setting itself back a decade.
Early word is franchises looking for a quick turnaround may clear cap space and take that chance. Atlanta, Charlotte and the organization that may or may not be located in Sacramento next season are all considered candidates.
But no matter where Bynum lands, the Sixers have learned their lesson. It’s a lesson from which the league’s other 29 teams can benefit, too.
Basically, it is this: To be really good, you have to be lucky. Without that, your major offseason splash will be nothing more than a meaningless thud. And you’ll likely be bowling in April.