The Bunsen burner has yet to be lit, the pH paper hasn't even changed color, and the mice are nowhere near the button that disposes a piece of cheese. Despite barely being started, it is time for the Philadelphia 76ers to end the Andrew Bynum Experiment.
Don't blame the Sixers brass. In fact, give them praise; they made a significant, albeit risky, move in an effort to take the team from the doldrums of mediocrity to the possibility of legit contender. After spending what felt like 100 seasons with Andre Igoudala as "The Guy," any change from the road-too-often-traveled should be saluted.
Sure, it should have been a red flag when a historically successful franchise like the Los Angeles Lakers opted to dump Bynum in favor of a slightly-older guy who plays the same position. It also should have been a red flag when Bynum, after completing his first (and only) fully-healthy season, needed to go to Germany to get a procedure on his chronically injured knee... a procedure recommended to him by former teammate and Not-Doctor, Kobe Bryant.
Still, the Sixers took a risk. And that should be praised, especially considering the risk comes with a one-year "eject" button. Bynum is a free agent at the end of the season, and despite the fact that he can't play a "max" number of games, he'll be looking for a max contract.
The Sixers would be wise to let him walk. Or better yet, trade him. Get some value for the allegedly-talented center (the writer chooses the word 'allegedly' because no one in Philly has actually seen Bynum play). Try to fleece a lottery-bound team out of some first round picks and look to build around the young talent on the roster that is actually healthy enough to ball.
As Bynum said this past week when a bowling accident set his rehab back, "if that happened bowling, what happens dunking?" He's exactly right, and the Sixers would be wise not to pay big bucks to an athlete who can neither bowl nor dunk.
In the NBA, where committing to a bad contract can set a franchise back for years, the risk with Bynum and his balky knees is just too great. The Sixers know this well enough; they've burned countless pages off the calendar as a result of the injuries suffered by Chris Webber and Elton Brand.
They can't afford to lose six-more watching Bynum style his hair from the end of the bench in a suit. If the former All-Star can come back -- that is, can come back healthy -- and adequately show his offensive game is what the Sixers need to reach an acceptable level of championship contention, then and only then should this team consider making him their face.
If Bynum can't come back, or does come back but his minutes need to be monitored, or he's forced to miss vital games down the stretch, or he starts complaining about his playing-time, or starts bickering with teammates, or starts fighting with his coach -- all of which seem a lot more likely than a successful integration into the Sixers push for a playoff spot -- then the Liberty Ballers need to shut the whole thing down.
Without even playing a game, it feels safe to conclude the Andrew Bynum Experiment won't produce the desirable results. It's time Philly moves on to the next one.