The Philadelphia 76ers have scrounged to the ninth spot in the East as they wait for their hypothetical franchise player to finally take the court in a Philadelphia uniform - and with his free agency coming up, they're not likely to make any moves that could hurt their ability to resign him.
The 76ers' outlook
Everything in Philadelphia has been put on hold by a pair of very important joints: Andrew Bynum's knees. The 76ers have leveraged their future around the 25-year-old big man, trading away a franchise player in Andrew Bynum, but over 50 games into the year and setback after setback after setback - read Liberty Ballers' comprehensive coverage of "the Andrew Bynum knee injury quandary" - he has yet to suit up for Philadelphia.
That's killed them this year - as of right now, they're 22-29, in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference, just one slot too low to make the playoffs.
And it will likely keep them from making a move at the deadline. Bynum is a free agent in the summer, and despite the fact that his health is unsure, he's likely to be in line for a major contract - he did average 18.7 points and 11.7 rebounds last year, which makes him one of the better centers in the game. With that in mind, the team can't afford to mess up their salary cap situation going forward. Here's what coach Doug Collins had to say about the upcoming trade deadline when asked:
"So much is Andrew Bynum's health and what he is going to be able to do for us going down the road," Collins said. "But we have to be very careful where all of a sudden you are trying to make a deal for something. You can't trade for a free agent because you could give something up and they don't re-sign. Then you've borrowed them for 30 games."
More than likely, the Sixers will stay pat at the deadline, but there's a few potential options. For one, there was a trade discussed that would have seen Hawks star Josh Smith come to the Sixers in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner - a deal supposedly proposed by the Hawks. However, Bynum's status - Smith is also an upcoming free agent, and would eat much of the cap space needed for Bynum - and Smith's role - one Thaddeus Young fills to an extent - turned Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers off to the trade.
There was also a trade floated around that would have seen Andrea Bargnani come to the Sixers for Hawes, but again, there's cap issues - the Italian center is owed $23 million over the next few years
What's the gist
The 76ers are probable to continue sitting and waiting with Andrew Bynum still sidelined, as the talented center's impending free agency will likely hold the team's trade opportunities hostage at the deadline. This team is in line to either go on a phenomenal run to make the playoffs and likely lose in the first round or to just miss out and earn an mid-round lottery pick in next year's NBA draft.