Andrew Bynum completes rehab, will begin basketball workouts next week
Considered by some to be the best center in the NBA, Bynum was a hot commodity last summer when his name began floating around in trade rumors. The Sixers were eventually able to land him by getting involved in a four-team trade and sending one of their best players - Andre Iguodala - to the Denver Nuggets. The Orlando Magic could have acquired Bynum in the trade, but decided against it due to concerns over his knees - it turns out their caution was well warranted.
Bynum had discomfort in his knees during training camp, then experienced setback after setback before finally having season-ending surgery on both knees in March. He didn't play a single game for Philadelphia, and will now be an unrestricted free agent.
The 76ers have been allowed to negotiate a new contract with Bynum since the end of the season, and are the only team allowed to do so until July 1. However, they have yet to speak with him. New 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie called the Bynum trade "a failure," and he seems to have no desire to re-sign the injury-prone big man.
Bynum will hit the open market on July 1 as a high-profile, minimally coveted free agent. The 25-year-old has a wealth of talent, but has incredibly fragile knees, and the 76ers were unhappy with his lack of commitment to rehab this past season. An anonymous NBA general manager told Shaun Powell of SportsOnEarth.com last month that Bynum will not get more than a one-year contract this summer. The seven-footer missed an average of 26.0 games per season in the five years previous to 2012-13.
Despite all the negatives regarding Bynum and his outlook as a free agent, recent reports suggest he is taking a step in the right direction - Bynum has completed his rehab and will resume basketball workouts next week. It's the first step towards generating interest from NBA teams, and Bynum will have a chance to show scouts that he still has what it takes to be a presence in the paint. Of course, teams will still be wary of Bynum's injury history, so even if he looks sensational in workouts, it is highly unlikely that anyone will commit big money to him.
Bynum's agent claims that there is "not a concern in the world" regarding Bynum's availability for training camp, which is also a good sign. However, it is certainly worth noting that Bynum's agent said the same thing a year ago, and Bynum ended up missing all 82 games last season.
Bynum will end up playing for someone by the start of next season, but teams will likely see what happens with the top free agents before taking an interest in him. His landing spot is about as much of a mystery as anything in free agency this summer. One team he is a near lock not to sign with is Philadelphia.