Andrew Bynum did not play a single second of basketball last season for the 76ers. He bowled, danced, got his hair done, and coerced the organization into dropping sixty grand on a fancy anti-gravity treadmill, but did not contribute a measly minute to the Sixers on-court endeavors.
When first signed last summer, Bynum was viewed, albeit briefly, as a potential Sixers savior - or at least as a centerpiece to their championship resurgence. Bynum, however, made it beyond clear that he was not interested in being the face of the franchise. Public perception of him continued to wane with each setback and “this is my life”-style sound bite.
At this point Sixers fans are keeping their collective fingers crossed, hoping that Hinkie lets Bynum walk this summer without sinking another cent into the center. That seems likely.
"Bynum is like the thousands of other young men walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents that have potential to play NBA basketball," Hinkie stated in a press conference. That doesn’t exactly sound like the stance of someone dying to bring Bynum back.
So assuming that Bynum’s seemingly laissez faire attitude has soured on the Sixers - and created questions league-wide about his motivation, drive and desire, along with the lingering injury issues surrounding him - one would think that the young man would be extremely eager to get out on the court and prove that he is still capable of the dominance he displayed in his final season in Los Angeles.
Well, one would be wrong. Bynum’s agent, David Lee, recently said that there are about a half dozen teams interested in his client’s services, but that the self-absorbed center would not work out for any of them.
Sure, an interested team can have access to his medical reports and MRI results. But when it comes to observing him doing what said team will potentially be paying him millions to do, no way.
Of course interested teams would want to give him a look, knowing that Bynum's last actual NBA action came in late May of 2012. It needs to be reiterated; he just missed an entire season due to injury issues. Is he really arrogant enough to expect a suitor to sink millions into him without seeing any signs of positive improvement in over a year?
Either Bynum is a big supporter of self-sabotage, or he is fearful that an actual workout will damage his market value more than it is already damaged. There is no other possible answer. Bynum has grown accustomed to collecting his checks without really working for the funds. It's a byproduct of being paid $16 million for a season to sit on the sideline. Maybe he fears that a workout will undermine this effort.
With the Sixers, the checks were going to keep coming whether he got himself out on the court or not, as the contract was signed. If a team works him out and sees that he is out of shape and still struggling through an injury issue, they are likely to lowball him and offer an incentive-laden contract, which would require him to work for more money. This hasn’t been Bynum's MO.
By refusing to work out, it seems that Bynum is hoping that some sap suitor with deep pockets will see his 2011-2012 statistics and make an offer based on them with no concern of current conditioning.
(Though you can’t fault him for trying, as this is basically how the Sixers handled the situation last summer.)
The circumstances surrounding Bynum have changed since then. Now his refusal to work out comes off as a counterproductive approach.
Injuries and attitude cost Bynum a max-deal that seemed certain early last summer. He still has an opportunity to cash in on big bucks this summer, as some team with financial freedom searching for a center will take a chance on him. But his refusal to work out for said suitors hurts his case. It may be viewed as another example of the offcourt immaturity to which the Sixers organization has grown all too accustomed.
Bynum will still get paid to play basketball next season, but it will be for substantially less than what was projected prior to the Sixers signing last summer.
It’s safe to say that the 76ers are looking forward to a fresh start. But is Bynum? Only he knows.