Blogs > Sixers Dish

A Philadelphia 76ers blog, hosted by Christopher A. Vito

Saturday, November 17, 2012


(Associated Press)
Friday night, Tony DiLeo was asked point-blank. No time to prepare an answer, no time to pause and reflect.

Asked if there would ever come a time – whether by the end of the current timetable, or beyond it – when the 76ers would ask Andrew Bynum to take the court with pain residing in thoseembattled knees of his, DiLeo gave a genuine reply: No.

“That’s a situation that, well, the player has to be confident he can play. You cannot ask a player to play injured,” said DiLeo, the Sixers’ general manager. “Whenever he feels confident he can get out there and he’s healthy and he can help the team, we have the same goal. We don’t want a player going out there and getting injured and creating more injury or more damage. It’s a situation where, when he feels confident and the doctors feel more confident that everything’s OK, that’s when he’ll be back on the court.”

The Sixers have won five of nine games without Bynum, acquired Aug. 10 by trade. They have 28 games between Sunday, at home against Cleveland, and Jan. 9 at Toronto. That date in January not only closes out a stretch of nine of 10 games on the road, it also represents the end of Bynum’s current timetable for return.

So if Bynum was ready to return Jan. 12 against visiting Houston, he would’ve missed 37 games. That would represent the most games Bynum has missed in a single 82-game season since 2007-08, when he played in only 35 games, starting 25.

DiLeo (AP)
DiLeo’s reply to that question was a bit telling.

Knowing Bynum could be the difference between a middle-of-the-road team in the East and a true contender … knowing the Sixers have no allegiance to Bynum, who has an expiring contract, beyond this season … knowing how highly anticipated his arrival here was received … knowing that these injuries have dogged him throughout his career – the Sixers have played the reticent card when it comes to inserting him into practice before he’s fully ready.

It says plenty about the Sixers and their desire to lock up Bynum. DiLeo said on three occasions Friday that the team views this as a “long-term” relationship, that they don’t want to sacrifice his health in the short-term for years of healthy play down the road.

“We’ve just got to find a way to keep winning basketball games and hopefully he’ll be able to come back and help us,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said after the Sixers topped Utah, 99-93. “That’s what we’ve got to hope. And I do feel terribly for him. To be traded and come in here and have everyone look at him as the centerpiece of a team and not be able to play, that’s very tough – especially when you’re 24 years old, in the last year of a contract. Those things, I’m sure, weigh heavily on him.”

And everyone involved, really.

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