PHILADELPHIA — Thanks for the memories, Andrew Bynum.
It was quite a time. The hairdos, the tough 7-10 splits, the hours spent on the anti-gravity treadmill. And hey, we'll always have London.
That's where Doug Collins, Josh Harris and Adam Aron were when the Sixers made the megadeal that brought Bynum to Philadelphia. In that spirit, those same chaps should bid Bynum “Cheerio” as the NBA resumes its season after the all-star break.
No more updates on Bynum's, ahem, progress. No more speculating on whether the Sixers should consider a long-term deal with the 7-foot center. No more projecting what Collins' rotation would look like if Bynum were in the middle and everyone else was in the proper spot.
There is a time to fish, and the Sixers pulled a big one into the boat last summer.
There is a time to cut bait, and Andrew Bynum is chum.
Let's cut to the chase and cut our losses here. The Sixers should sit Bynum down, thank him for his tiresome — sorry, tireless — efforts to get on the court, and offer him a plane ticket to the location of his choice. It is time to end the pretense that Bynum is ever going to play center for the Philadelphia 76ers — for a couple of reasons.
But first: There are two possibilities here. The first is that Bynum's knee issues are so serious, he is never going to be healthy enough to warrant the risk of a long-term contract. The second is that Bynum hasn't exactly done everything necessary to get out on the court and earn the millions of dollars that are appearing in his bank account through the miracle of direct deposit.
Either way, it's a pass/fail exam that Bynum has failed.
The Sixers should already know that they don't want any part of this guy once this season is over. If that's the case, they should just send him on his way. If that's not the case, then there is no hope for this franchise. Harris needs to clean house again.
Consider this alternative scenario: Bynum is suddenly, miraculously able to play for a month or so of the regular season and the playoffs, assuming the Sixers sneak in. He looks good enough that the Sixers are tempted to offer him a long-term deal. They do, he signs and then we spend the next five years talking about how the Bynum contract has hamstrung the Sixers.
Or this: Bynum gets out on the court long enough to attract interest from other teams. That would put the Sixers in the position of paying a guy more than $16 million to hang around, then giving him a showcase to make even more money elsewhere. Forget that. By shutting him down now, the Sixers put Bynum in the position of having to prove he's healthy, maybe even struggling along on a one-year deal for just a couple million.
Forgive us for shedding exactly zero tears.
The Sixers don't owe Bynum a thing. They brought him here and offered him a chance to be the centerpiece of a franchise. He was not capable of taking advantage of that opportunity. End of story.
By acknowledging that right now, the Sixers remove the shadow of Bynum from their current roster. Instead of waiting for the cavalry to show up, these Sixers can get on with their season. For the front office, it would mean planning for a realistic future without Bynum as a factor.
There is a chance, however tiny, that Bynum goes on to a Hall of Fame career elsewhere and wins a few championships. That risk is worth taking at this point. For one thing, it doesn't exactly sound like the Bynum we've seen. For another, the Sixers would at least have demonstrated they won't be held hostage.
The franchise took a shot at greatness in trading for Bynum. That's fine, even admirable. It didn't work out, and that cost the Sixers a season.
It would cost several more seasons if the men in charge can't recognize reality and choose to double-down on a mistake. The best and easiest way to avoid that is to end the charade immediately.
Bye-bye, Bynum. It's been an experience.