Andrew Bynum to have surgery, miss rest of season


Andrew Bynum to have surgery, miss rest of season

With just five home games remaining in the season and the Sixers struggling with a 25-40 record, the team officially announced the inevitable on Monday evening.

All-Star center Andrew Bynum will have surgery on both knees on Tuesday to clean out the damage that has plagued him since October.

Bynum, a free agent at the end of the season, may never play a game for the 76ers. He will have arthroscopic surgery on both knees to clean out loose bodies to, “alleviate the pain and swelling,” according to the Sixers. Dr. David Altchek of the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York will perform the surgery.

“We sort of sensed that as the season progressed and he’d make a little progress and then it slowed,” head coach Doug Collins said. “I think it got to the point in time where Andrew had to get something done. I feel badly that I didn’t get to coach him this year. I think he would have been an incredible player for us this year.”

Bynum suffered a bone bruise in his right knee in September while working out ahead of the season in Los Angeles. Initially, the Sixers believed Bynum would return in time for the season opener. But when Bynum injured his left knee while bowling in November, the return was pushed back to December.

Bynum’s self-proclaimed return dates were spotty at best and constantly moving further back seemingly with every update. Unable to practice through the first half of the season, Bynum’s first (and only) full workout with the Sixers in February left him with pain and a swollen knee in the aftermath.

After the March 1 update, Bynum was rarely seen by the media before games or sitting on the team bench during games. It’s not known how much he worked out with the team after that first practice.

“I’ve talked about this before. As a man who suffered injuries as a young player, it’s devastating,” Collins said. “I can only imagine what’s racing through his mind right now. I hope we all keep him in prayer. He’s not played for us this year, but he’s still a 76er. I hope he has successful surgery and hopefully his career can bounce back and he can be an effective player.”

Acquired in the four-team blockbuster trade in which the Sixers sent Andre Iguodala to Denver and their last two first-round picks, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic to Orlando, the Sixers had high hopes for this season. With Bynum in the middle anchoring both the offense and defense, Collins stated that he thought the Sixers could win 60 games.

It wasn’t meant to be.

“When you give up a lot for a player and he comes in and doesn’t play, I don’t think that people know the pain that player feels,” Collins said. “I think we look at it sometimes and see the player and his exterior and we don’t understand how he handles things internally. I know from talking to Andrew how badly he wanted to play this year and how badly he wanted to help us.”

Headed into Monday’s action, the Sixers were eight games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are left to wonder about what could have been. More than anything, the Sixers were missing a presence in the paint all season.

“It sucks. It sucks to hear just from a friend perspective,” All-Star guard Jrue Holiday said. “I don’t know what it’s like, so I’m just praying for him.”

Center Spencer Hawes stood to gain the most from playing alongside Bynum. With Bynum in the paint, Collins said he envisioned Hawes playing off of him the way Pau Gasol did with the Lakers. Instead, Hawes was forced to take over in the paint and share time at center with 6-foot-9 Lavoy Allen.

“It’s tough, but at the same time we never played with him. It’s just speculation from there,” Hawes said. “We know how bad he wanted to get out there, but sitting around and thinking about that isn’t going to bring him back any quicker.”

Or at all. Bynum earned $16.9 million in the last year of his contract this year. He can be an unrestricted free agent this summer and can command a big deal from any team starved for a big man.

In the meantime, the Sixers can apply to get some of the money they paid for Bynum salary back. According to the league’s collective bargaining agreement, after a player misses 41 games, a team gets 80 percent of the salary back. For the Sixers with Bynum, they will get back approximately $13.2 million.

Bynum gets paid in full.

And the Sixers can only dream about what might have been.

“Obviously, it’s sad,” Collins said. “It’s been a tough year for our franchise and it’s been tough year for Andrew.”

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

CAMDEN, N.J. — It has been over three weeks since Ben Simmons suffered an acute Jones fracture in his right foot during the final scrimmage of training camp. The Sixers had constructed schemes around the rookie point-forward and watched unconventional lineups play out at Stockton University.

Those “can’t-wait-to-see” situations have been delayed to “wait-and-see” as Simmons recovers.

“Where do you begin?” Brett Brown said after practice Sunday. “I could talk for three days on what’s different without Ben Simmons. It’s all-over-the-place different. The core values of how you want to do different things there remain the same, but the whole landscape changed.”

This week was supposed to be the debut of a new-look system featuring a player who could influence the game with his versatility and athleticism. Brown even had experimented with pairing Simmons and Dario Saric at the two and three positions. Instead, the Sixers once again will start a regular season shorthanded by injuries.

Simmons was projected to start at power forward and also handle point responsibilities. His multitasking lessened the need for the Sixers to find a standout point guard this summer. They signed veteran Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, who is returning to the NBA for his second stint.

Bayless was expected to start, with the intention of Simmons running the floor at times. Now, neither can play. Bayless has been sidelined by a ligament injury in his left wrist. The Sixers announced on Friday that Bayless will have a non-surgical rehab and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Brown on Sunday was undecided on whether Rodriguez or second-year point guard T.J. McConnell would start at the one on opening night.

“He was going to be one of the primary ballhandlers,” Brown said of Simmons. “And with that, floor spots and spacing and how you actually set this thing up changes dramatically.”

The players also have noticed a change without Simmons in the backcourt. Joel Embiid, playing his first season after missing the past two with foot injuries, found himself struggling with his shot selection early on in the preseason. He got glimpses in camp of how Simmons could improve that.

“He’s such a big presence and he’s really important to us,” Embiid said. “He just makes plays. I’ve been rushing shots and that’s where it comes in play. Someone like him can help me get better shots because he can get me easy baskets.”

Simmons’ absence also fast-forwarded Saric’s transition in his first NBA season. The injuries to Simmons and Jahlil Okafor (right knee) have pushed Saric into the starting power forward role during the preseason. The rookie has been learning on the go in a new league.

“He has been thrown into the fire,” Brown said of Saric last week (see story).

Simmons recently went through a two-week, post-operative exam and had sutures removed. He is working on day-to-day rehab with the Sixers' staff while also spending time talking with Brown. The team is implementing a multi-faceted recovery program of education, health and shot improvement.

This includes meeting with Brown to break down his game — where it is now and where it can develop in the future. Brown wants to make sure Simmons knows the ins and outs of the system so he is best prepared to begin his rookie season once cleared to play.

“I think that part of my excitement is I get with Ben every day while we’re here and go into my office for half-an-hour and it’s like basketball-NBA 101,” Brown said.

That’s one aspect of Simmons’ injury for which Brown can prepare.

Sixers sign former Temple great Dionte Christmas

Sixers sign former Temple great Dionte Christmas

Hours before Monday's 5 p.m. NBA deadline to finalize rosters for opening night, the Sixers signed former Temple guard Dionte Christmas.

Christmas, now 30, hasn't played in an NBA regular-season game since 2013-14, when he appeared in the only 31 contests of his career with the Suns.

He was a standout at Temple, where he averaged 15.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 130 games, leading the Atlantic 10 in scoring in three consecutive seasons.

Christmas played in the NBA Summer League six years in a row after going undrafted in 2009. He was originally signed by the Sixers in September 2009 after playing with them that summer in Orlando.

Christmas has also spent seven seasons overseas, most recently with Torku Konyaspor Basket in Turkey.

The Sixers now have 20 players on their roster. They have five cuts to make by 5 p.m and likely roster casualties include Brandon Paul, James Webb III, Cat Barber and Shawn Long.