When The Inquirer spoke to Barkley before the start of the 2012-13 NBA season, Barkley's biggest concern for Bynum was whether he could handle the pressure of being the team's top option. Like most, Barkley never suspected at the time that Bynum, who missed just one game because of injury in the 2011-12 season, would be sidelined by his knees until now and perhaps never play for the Sixers.
Bynum, who will have a portion of his $16.4 million salary covered by insurance, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Should the 76ers (24-40) choose to re-sign him, they can outbid anyone for his services.
However, if a team were to offer Bynum just a one-year deal, Barkley says, the Sixers should keep him under one condition.
"I'm not going to give a guy that is already hurt money unless they can work out an incentive-laden contract," Barkley said. "I'm not giving $15-$20 million a year for a guy who hasn't played all year. You are eating up valuable salary cap if you give him a long-term deal."
In eight NBA seasons, Bynum has played in all 82 games just once, in 2006-07. But Bynum appeared in 60 of 66 games last season. He missed just one game with an injury (ankle). He missed four to a suspension and sat out the final game of the year to rest.
In favor of the deal at the time, Barkley on Thursday said the Sixers still made the right move even though it cost them promising players Nik Vucevic and Maurice Harkless and a lottery-protected first-round pick to Orlando.
Vucevic has shined in his second season, averaging 12.2 points and 11.4 rebounds. Since Dec. 1, Vucevic, in his second season, has pulled down 621 rebounds, the most in the league. Harkless, the No. 15 pick in the draft last summer, is starting for the Magic and averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds.
"I loved the trade," Barkley said. "If you've got a healthy Andrew Bynum - I like Vucevic as a player, but you weren't going to win a championship with Vucevic in another couple of years. A healthy Andrew Bynum puts you in the top three or four teams in the East."
Contact John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.