I hate to continue going back to Andrew Bynum. In all likelihood, the Sixers aren’t bringing him back, after acquiring Nerlens Noel on draft night. But just as I try to turn the page on Bynum, something like this comes out.
John Mitchell published an article this morning taking an in-depth look at what caused the Sixers meltdown last year. Mitchell discusses everything from power struggles in the front office, to Doug Collins wanting to sign Kwame Brown to a five-year deal, and of course Andrew Bynum.
Mitchell first discusses why, if Bynum was as good as the Sixers organization advertised him, he was ever available via trade to start with.
The March 2012 surgery on his knees to clean out damaged cartilage marked his fourth knee surgery as a professional since 2008. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in May 2008 on his left knee, and in the summer of 2010 he had surgery on his right knee to repair torn cartilage. Bynum also had his knees drained countless times during his career, which is never a good sign for a man whose weight hovers near 300 pounds. But Bynum’s knee issues began long before the Lakers selected the then-17-year-old with the 10th pick in the 2005 draft. Bynum had his first knee surgery at the age of 12. After they drafted him, the Lakers discovered that Bynum’s out-of-the-ordinary “Q angle” – the angle between hip and knee – could affect the way his kneecap glides along the thigh bone and could cause foot problems, which Bynum has also experienced in his career.
But when the Sixers acquired Bynum last August, the Sixers sold us that Bynum passed a physical examination prior to the trade being finalized.
“We had four well-known doctors look at it and they all approved the trade,” majority owner Joshua Harris said at a news conference the day after the season ended. “I don’t know that there was a rubber stamp. I wouldn’t characterize it that way.”
It isn’t like anyone was overlooking the degenerative knee problems that Bynum had, but at the very least he was considered healthy enough to be traded last August. Or at least that is what we were told.
One of those surgeons said to have signed off on the deal sat courtside prior to the team’s home finale April 14. Asked how he could have cleared Bynum for the trade, the doctor, speaking anonymously, shook his head, saying, “Who says I cleared him?”
So the Sixers did one of two things. The first option is that Bynum wasn’t cleared but they realized that they had topped out with Andre Iguodala on the team, and they hoped Bynum would stay healthy enough to make them a relevant team in the east. Or they knew Bynum would never play and that the 2012-13 season would explode in their faces. With that they could have looked ahead and decided to clear house after the season, which they have done, and try to tank for a stacked draft class in 2014 that is scary good.
While the second option may be what ultimately ends up transpiring, I have a tough time imagining that Joshua Harris and the boys drew up that exact plan a year ago.