Because Collins knows as bad as it’s gotten – with Sixers tickets going for 34 cents or less on StubHub as the fans’ mood has turned from apathy to anger – it may yet get worse. Whether or not Bynum ever steps onto the court this season with those creaky knees, he will still be a free agent when it’s all over and still expect to get paid.
That’s when the fun begins. No longer the franchise’s would-be savior, now many view Bynum as a pariah who’s more worried about his hairstyles and bowling average than enduring a little discomfort and earning his money on the court. The fans have written him off and say the Sixers should, too.
But then what? If the Sixers wash their hands of Bynum after this season, saying rather than risk another bad investment on such damaged goods, they would rather spend their salary cap dollars elsewhere, one thought comes to mind: “For Who? For What?’’ as former Eagles running back Ricky Watters once responded when asked why he didn’t go all out for a pass to avoid getting hit.
If not Bynum – still potentially a difference-maker if he ever takes the court – who do they think they’ll be getting? Prospective free agents Josh Smith, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are all nice players. But difference-makers? Anyone else out there you can think of? Dwight Howard certainly isn’t walking through that door.
That’s why Collins and the Sixers brass have gone out of their way not to indict their missing big man, to the point where the rest of the team has realized the futility of the whole mess and stopped trying.
The next chapter of this saga won’t be written until July, when the Sixers must decide if Bynum will ever be a semblance or what he once was and – even presuming he wants to stick around – lock him up for the foreseeable future. In their minds, only one thing would be worse than rolling those dice.
Not rolling them and seeing a healthy Bynum flourish someplace else.
That’s what prompted Collins’ “State of the Sixers’’ address, as he referred to it. Tonight, the Sixers face the same Bulls’ team they shocked in last year’s playoffs (which is 32-25 without their injured superstar, Derrick Rose).
Collins will see whether any of his rant got through to the players he has left.
Jon Marks has covered the Philadelphia 76ers from the days of Dr. J and his teammate, Joe Bryant (best known as Kobe’s dad). He has won awards from the Pro Basketball Writer’s Association and North Jersey Press Club. His other claim to fame is driving Rick Mahorn to a playoff game after missing the team bus. Follow him on Twitter.