The Philadelphia 76ers have seen Andrew Bynum make more headlines for his injury reports and hair than his actual play. On Feb. 19, Bynum combined the two as he debuted a new hairstyle and gave another update on his very slow progress.
With half of his hair now braided, Bynum said he’d “definitely be back sometime this year” according to NJ.com. However, he said a full practice would be “a week or two away” which would put his return to a live game somewhere in the latter half of March.
That would only give the Sixers one month to see Bynum in action, at the very least. By then, they may be out of the playoff picture and have no real need to see him play, at least for this year. At this point, the only concrete reason to bring Bynum back is to evaluate him for next season, and whether he is worth the risk to sign to a long-term deal.
A month or less isn’t enough time to make such a crucial decision, but it may be the best the Sixers can get. It would be better if they were reassured that once he gets on the floor, he can be fully healthy. Yet Bynum stated that there is still pain in his knee even now, and that it is “something I have to get used to.”
For all his rehab and recovery, Bynum’s knees may never be fully healthy for the rest of his career, or at least the next few years. Given how this next offseason will shape Philadelphia’s future for years to come, gambling on Bynum anyway would cripple the franchise if it doesn’t pay off.
This certainly makes a compelling case for the Sixers to cut their losses and move on. In fact, it would make Bynum’s drive to get back into action now useless, since there’s only so much he can do in a month to cancel out all these risks.
If there is nothing he can do and if the Sixers will be out of the playoff running soon enough, it might be safer to shut him down right now. However, Philadelphia remains too desperate to get something out of this mess, even if it has an increasingly limited window to do so.