Any time a doctor decides to weigh in on the health of Andrew Bynum, it's worth waiting to hear the diagnosis. Well, unless the doctor holds nothing more than an honorary degree in dunking bestowed by a high school friend. Philadelphia 76ers legend Julius Erving, the venerable Dr. J, recently offered his diagnosis of what went wrong in the Bynum situation during an interview with XFinity Live. He thinks the Lakers pulled a fast one on the Sixers to unload 'damaged goods': (via USA TODAY Sports):
"When you talk to the Lakers, when you talk to the Celtics, when you talk to - well, those two in particular - the guy on the other end of the phone has his fingers crossed," Erving said. "So whatever he's telling you, he's not telling you the truth. He's working a deal for him. And what happened to us last year with getting damaged goods hopefully will only happen once. And that's the extent of that learning curve."
It's an interesting take, to be sure. Rather than point to the inherent risks associated with acquiring a big man with knee issues, Dr. J has reviewed the evidence and decided that the Lakers, and for some reason the Celtics, can't be trusted. Um, okay?
The fact that a talented, young seven-footer even hit the trade market in the first place was the first clue that any buyer would be assuming some risk, so it seems a bit silly to pin this on big market general managers with supposedly nefarious intentions. To suggest that Mitch Kupchak lied about Bynum's health is a bridge too far at this point, as real medical doctors have been involved at every step of the process for all involved parties.
At this point it may be a better idea for Sixers fans to just wash their hands of the situation and interpret Bynum's experience in Philadelphia -- from his bowling-related injury to his flamenco dancing adventure in Spain -- as a sophisticated "so long and thanks for all the fish"-type message like the one offered by dolphins in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as they skipped town before the world was destroyed.
Bynum will test the free agent market after rehabbing for a year with the Sixers, and Philadelphia now has to pick up the pieces and rebuild. A gamble on a big man with injury risks didn't pay off for the 76ers, but that's hardly a reason to assume the Lakers and Celtics are lying every time they pick up the phone. Erving may still think of the Lakers and Celtics as rivals with bad intentions, but it's a good bet that the new analytics-driven regime in Philadelphia wouldn't hesitate to do another deal with those teams if the right trade came along.