What ifs, with Andrew Bynum

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Even if Andrew Bynum had played for the Sixers, he wouldn't have been the key to a championship.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Even if Andrew Bynum had played for the Sixers, he wouldn't have been the key to a championship.
Posted: July 12, 2013

WHAT IF Andrew Bynum had been able to play?

It is the question without an answer for the Sixers. But on the day after Bynum agreed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending his tenure in Philadelphia - a tenure of lucrative woe - it seems OK to speculate a little bit.

It is all a guess, of course, but here goes.

If Bynum had been as healthy as advertised - say, healthy for 60-something games last season . . . 

The Sixers would have made the playoffs. There would be no lottery pick, no talk of a lottery pick.

The Sixers likely/possibly would have won a round or two in the playoffs. With a healthy big man and the ability to play in the half-court in the springtime, this is a fair assumption.

Doug Collins likely would still be the coach. And not only that - he would be even more empowered and the organization would be subject to his every whim, or Kwame. The young players would still be ignored.

Tony DiLeo would still be the general manager. He and Doug appeared to be a package, after all. And there would have been plenty of credit to go around if Bynum had been healthy.

The entire focus of the organization would be on the here and now, and on making an incremental change or two in order to win that next round of the playoffs, and then the next round, and then hang around in the hopes that, in some future year, LeBron James missed the playoffs for some reason.

Oh, and one other thing: Collins and Bynum would likely have become a running melodrama in two parts, just because their personalities - specifically, their public displays of competitiveness - would be so at odds. Even healthy, Bynum would have needed to rest the knee. Even healthy, there have been questions. This coach vs. player thing would clearly have been part of the narrative.

So you think about all of that for a minute and you come to two conclusions. First, that the next two seasons under that scenario would likely have been a lot more interesting than the next two seasons for the current Sixers (and certainly this season). Second, that I'm not sure the Sixers with a healthy Bynum would have ended up any closer to the Larry O'Brien trophy than the Sam Hinkie Sixers will be - that a complete tear-down and rebuild, informed by analytics, is not the better long-term strategy, however painful it is in the short term.

I was in favor of the Bynum deal. Given everything, it seemed a reasonable gamble. So this is all said in hindsight, granted. But it's all I have.

Andrew, adieu.

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