The Philadelphia 76ers introduced their new general manager, Sam Hinkie, and the first question he will have to answer (aside from the Draft) in reshaping the franchise is the 7-foot-1 elephant with bad knees in the room. While Daryl Morey might be saying how glad his former protege is in the Eastern Conference, this is not an easy decision or situation for Hinkie to walk into.
Hinkie and 76ers owner Josh Harris know that the trade they made last August to bring in the former Lakers All Star was a risky one — and one Harris said he would do again despite Bynum missing the entire season — but Hinkie is an analytics guy. And with Bynum sitting out the entire season before hitting free agency, it increases the stakes this summer.
The possibility of losing Andre Iguodala, NIkola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless for virtually nothing — Bynum did not play the entire season and Jason Richardson missed half the season with knee issues — leads to only one conclusion, as Hinkie told Christopher A. Vito of the Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times:
Hinkie said it's fair to call the Sixers' trade for Andrew Bynum "a failure."
— Christopher A. Vito (@ChrisVito) May 14, 2013
Harris went on to describe the Bynum trade, at least for this past season, as a "sunk cost." In business-speak that is an investment that a businesss simply will not be able to get back.
Hinkie, like most of the analytics-based general managers, are about process and doing their research. And so while he might describe the trade a failure, that does not mean there is no chance Bynum would return to Philadelphia. Hinkie said he will do his research on Bynum and would certainly consider bringing him back.
Hinkie said he is "duty-bound" to consider and look at Bynum like all unrestricted free agents. That does not bode well for Bynum returning — it is not exactly a ringing endorsement. But crazier things happen in free agency.
Someone is going to throw some money at Bynum and someone is going to sign the 7-footer and hope he can stay healthy and carry a team, something he wanted to do but could not in Kobe Bryant's shadow in Los Angeles. Bynum should be plenty motivated to fulfill this role.
Once Dwight Howard's free agency is figured out, Bynum is likely the best center on the market. Philadelphia will be evaluating all its options when it comes to Bynum. It will not take back this lost season however.