I'm sure they would like to see Bynum play in Philadelphia for an extended stretch of games, Trevor, and that's what Bynum should want as well. His return should have nothing to do with trying to lead the 76ers back into the playoffs. They're 10 games under .500, they're already absent Jason Richardson for the rest of the year and they can't ask a guy who is worried about his future to also carry a team.
The more optimism Bynum can create for his future, the better for him. He'll look to re-sign in Philadelphia because (1) the Sixers are a big-market team that can afford the financial risk of his knees, and (2) they traded Andre Iguodala in his prime to reinvent themselves around a franchise center. They've yet to provide any public hint that they're interested in walking away from Bynum.
One rival team executive projects that the 76ers will negotiate language into Bynum's contract that provides them with some level of protection -- maybe a team option after two years, based on incentives -- in case his knees fail him. It will be worthwhile for them to continue to manage Bynum's health in order to derive the benefits of his potential. The worst alternative would be for the Sixers to let go of a 25-year-old with a sophisticated low-post game as well as All-Star and championship experience -- and then watch him thrive elsewhere.
As long as the Sixers believe Bynum can salvage his career, then it makes sense for them to maintain their investment in him. "But if they don't sign him," the rival executive said, "then we'd all better run the other direction. Because they'll know his situation better than everybody.''
Morrison enjoyed the superior rookie year before he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason of 2007. Thereafter he was unable to live up to the extraordinary expectations as a No. 3 pick, whereas Redick appeared to benefit from being picked No. 11 and given the opportunity to develop more slowly and steadily.
It helped Redick immensely that he played for a winning organization that was coached by Stan Van Gundy, who demanded that he become more than a shooter. The bottom line is that Morrison was supposed to be a star, which was never going to happen, while the best hope for Redick was that he would become a contributing role player -- which is exactly what he has become.
The 2006 draft was a strange disappointment, with a few exceptions. The following players are no longer in the NBA, including almost half of the lottery:
3. Adam Morrison 5. Shelden Williams 6. Brandon Roy (considering retirement for the second time) 9. Patrick O'Bryant 10. Mouhamed Sene 12. Hilton Armstrong 15. Cedric Simmons 16. Rodney Carney 17. Shawne Williams 18. Oleksiy Pecherov 19. Quincy Douby 20. Renaldo Balkman 22. Marcus Williams 23. Josh Boone 26. Jordan Farmar 27. Sergio Rodriguez 28. Maurice Ager 29. Mardy Collins
If the NBA had to do it over again, based on the 18 players (not including Roy) from that draft who are currently in the league, the lottery would look something like this:
1. Rajon Rondo (he was the No. 21 pick) 2. LaMarcus Aldridge (2) 3. Paul Millsap (47) 4. Rudy Gay (8) 5. Andrea Bargnani (1) 6. Thabo Sefolosha (13) 7. Kyle Lowry (24) 8. J.J. Redick (11) 9. Randy Foye (7) 10. Ronnie Brewer (14) 11. Tyrus Thomas (3) 12. Shannon Brown (25) 13. Steve Novak (32) 14. Daniel Gibson (42)
They used to have that kind of game at All-Star weekend, Abe, but it didn't work out well. The old men were stiff and suffering injuries. So they did away with the exhibition after 1993. I could see the NBA bringing it back if Jordan decided he wanted to kick everyone's butt all over again. There would always be an audience for that. But otherwise I don't think the league would want to expose its retirees to the pain and rehab.
I appreciate your view, Jeremy. Someday I do think it will become a meaningful option, equivalent to a Ryder Cup of basketball that would renew the All-Star Game with a sense of meaning. But the internationals have yet to earn the right to play the Americans in this venue. For starters, Irving isn't going to be playing for Australia -- most people think he'll be in a U.S. uniform for the next Olympics. Ginobili, Nash and Nowitzki are nearing the ends of their careers.
The internationals need to develop many more incarnations of Nowitzki, Nash and Yao Ming. There need to be more players from abroad who are contending to be MVPs and threatening to lead their teams to the championship. I don't see any younger players who are on track to approach the elite level of Nowitzki, Ginobili, Parker and Nash, all of whom are on the wrong side of 30. The U.S. should take on the rest of the world at All-Star weekend only when the public demands it. Right now there is no such demand, for good reason.