After almost making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012, the Philadelphia 76ers were hoping to take that next step, so that summer they decided to make a splash move. That splash move was trading for then Lakers C Andrew Bynum. The two-time NBA champion was expected to lead the Sixers to new heights, but it never materialized.
Due to injury, Bynum never played a game for the 76ers. The team and its fans were waiting and waiting, but ultimately, Bynum was shutdown for the season in March of 2013.
Former 76er and now Pacers F Thad Young played with Bynum that season, and saw it up close and personal:
“I mean it was very strange,” Young told the Go4it podcast. “We understood usually with big guys their knees and their feet they go first, right? So, we understood he was injured, and he wasn’t going to play until he was completely healed or one-hundred percent. It doesn’t make sense to run him out there and re-injure yourselves, and then, you sitting out longer.
“We still went out there and played, and we tried to go out there in win some games. It was just hard without the big fella being out there. He practiced with us a few times, and we were like blown away, and thinking he was going to come and be able to play at least 10 to 15 games.”
The Sixers finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 34-48 and would miss the playoffs. According to Young, if Bynum could have gotten on the floor, things would have been different.
“I think, personally if he would have played anywhere from 15 to 20 games, we’d be in the playoffs that year. He didn’t play. He re-injured himself a couple times throughout the year, and it just didn’t work out, but if he would have played, things would have been completely different,” Young said. “We would of had a much better season, and we know he would had a good season because we would have been throwing him the ball the whole game. It would have been completely different. Things probably could have changed as far as them making certain moves that they did.”
Ultimately, the Bynum situation led to resignation of then 76ers coach Doug Collins, which led to the hiring of former 76ers GM Sam Hinkie. From there, “The Process” began and the 76ers went on tank for the next few seasons. The tanking began when the Bynum experiment failed miserably.
Bynum would attempt a comeback with the Cavaliers and Paces, but his knees failed him again.
Sometimes, I wonder what the 76ers would have been if Bynum was healthy. He was coming off his first All-Star appearance and had a lot of ability, but it’s just one of those things that we will never know!
Young talks Bynum at 20:15: