In an interview with Comcast SportsNet on Monday, Sixers CEO Adam Aron discussed the Andrew Bynum trade, the center’s ailing knees and whether the team plans to re-sign him.
“This is a move that should have worked,” Aron said. “But, unfortunately, he got an injury in September and it’s been compounded since, post-trade and we haven’t seen a day. The fans hopes were justifiably high that the Sixers had made a move, a bold move, that would catapult us back into the top teams in the NBA. It hasn’t worked.”
Late last week, Bynum said he suffered a setback and was unsure that he’d play this season. Then, this weekend, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo revealed that Bynum is considering season-ending surgery. Aron said he first learned that surgery was an option “a couple days ago.”
“The issue for this season is not whether Andrew Bynum has surgery, it’s what are the condition of his knees?” Aron said. “We thought he was going to play opening day. His doctors gave us a four-week delay, then another four-week delay. In December, we went out publicly and said he would be out indefinitely because we just didn’t know when he would be back. If you go back in time just three weeks ago, Andrew himself was telling everyone that he thought he’d be actively playing after the All-Star break. He did practice with the team about 10 days ago. There were high hopes and he was working out hard in February behind the scenes at the practice facility. But when he practiced with the team five-on-five his knees started swelling up and that was a big setback.”
Late last week, when Bynum was asked whether his knees are degenerative, he didn’t directly answer the question, saying instead that “50 percent of the people in the United States” are in the same situation. Are Bynum’s knees degenerative?
“I can’t get into his exact medical condition,” Aron said. “But I can say this, which is obvious to all of us: All season long he’s had bone bruise issues. He’s had cartilage problems. It’s March. He’s still not playing. He hasn’t played basketball since last May. Clearly, Andrew is dealing with some knee problems that have prevented him from playing in the NBA.”
Aron said “four doctors cleared the trade in August, and six doctors have actively been treating him and examining him all year long.” The Sixers’ CEO insisted that the team, until now, was confident Bynum would play this season.
“We certainly thought he was going to play in August,” Aron said. “That’s why we made the trade. Even in early October, we thought he would play on opening night. Then there was a delay. Then there was [another] delay. Even when we announced that he was out indefinitely, inside the team we thought he would play in January or February. He himself, in February, said he would play in February. But here we are in March and the team is disappointed. Our fan base is disappointed. And that’s the story of the season.”
The story moving forward is whether the Sixers attempt to re-sign Bynum. To acquire the center, the Sixers unloaded Andre Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a lottery-protected first-round pick. Bynum – who will make around $16.4 million this season – will be a free agent after the year. DiLeo recently said that Bynum remains “Plan A” for the team. But when asked whether it’s the organization’s intention to retain the center, Aron said, “that’s not a decision for today.”
“That’s a decision for the offseason,” Aron maintained. “We’re still going to get more information about Andrew and his knees and his health and his interest in playing in Philadelphia. Clearly, the Andrew Bynum of last season was one of the best players in the entire NBA. The Andrew Bynum of this season hasn’t played a game. If we could bring the last season’s Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, that would be a great move for our fans and a great move for our team. But until we have more time with his doctors to see what the condition of his knees are like, that’s ... an offseason decision. Right now, none of us really know where Andrew Bynum will be in four days or four weeks, let alone in four years.”
Does that mean there’s some doubt about the “Plan A” DiLeo mentioned?
“Tony didn’t say there’s only Plan A,” Aron continued. “He said there’s Plan A and there was Plan B. Plan A is with Andrew Bynum and Plan B is without Andrew Bynum. What I’m saying is, either of those options are a possibility and we don’t have to make the choice today by 5 o’clock. We get to make the choice in the offseason. We’ll have more information.”
For more on Sixers CEO Adam Aron, check out what he had to say about the impact of the Bynum trade on the fans.