Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14
From just about every perspective, Andrew Bynum‘s season was an unmitigated disaster. It was a disaster for the Sixers, for whom he never played a game. It was a disaster for Sixers fans, who were fooled into thinking their team was on the verge of contending. And it was unquestionably a disaster for Bynum, who went from vying for a maximum contract to having to go hat-in-hand to teams with sub-max salary cap space. One party benefited from the Bynum saga, however: Anyone who enjoys seeing how things play out in free agent season. In a summer that includes free agents like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Josh Smith, Bynum is by far the most intriguing. He is nowhere near the best of the bunch, and he will be no more than most teams’ Plan B. Yet how his free agency unfolds will be fascinating to watch. Bynum was a bust in 2012-13. He made close to $17 million to watch the Sixers lose 48 games. He donned a Sixers jersey once, in a promotional photo shortly after the trade, and his hair became as much of a focus as his balky knees as the season wore on. Any team looking to sign Bynum for the future faces the possibility of repeating that nightmare. But just about every general manager with some money to spend has to be asking himself, what if last season doesn’t repeat itself? What if Bynum actually, you know, takes the court in 2013-14, and presumably plays very well? What if, as anticipated, his recent injury issues have persuaded Bynum and his agent to sign for less than the four-year, $88 million maximum a team other than Philadelphia could offer? What if he accepts something along the lines of $75 million over four years — still a pretty penny, but millions less than the max deal Howard is expected to get, and that fellow free agent big men Smith and Al Jefferson are seeking. Everyone on this summer’s free agent market is flawed, aside from Paul, who is expected to re-sign with the Clippers. Smith’s shot selection is shoddy. Jefferson can score in the post but can’t pass or defend. Andre Iguodala, who might be the third-best free agent in the crop, is an excellent defender and finisher who has often been mislabeled as a No. 1 scoring option. Howard is the ringmaster of his own personal circus. Bynum is no picnic, either. He infuriated teammates in Los Angeles and later executives in Philadelphia for his cavalier attitude toward playing hard all the time (or playing at all, in the latter case). He’s not an incredible passer, if you want to nitpick, although he does just about everything else really, really well. Even if $18 million is a huge potential bargain for Bynum if his knees hold up, it would also be a massive sunk cost if they do not. Still, that uncertainty is part of what makes Bynum’s situation so interesting. His options are dwindling, if he’s after a big payday. Only Dallas, Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta and Philadelphia have the cap room and a realistic demand for Bynum’s services. Philly seems too smart to go back down that road, particularly after acquiring rookie Nerlens Noel on draft night. Dallas or Houston will be taken out of the equation if one lands Howard. Atlanta seems oddly attracted to the idea of bringing back Smith, who they could not wait to unload in the middle of last season. At this rate, Cleveland could end up bidding only against itself. Of course, this is just Day 1 of free agency. (Teams and players’ agents can begin the negotiate, but no formal contracts can be signed for another two weeks.) The Trail Blazers, who have long had a fetish for injury-prone big men, reportedly want in on the Bynum sweepstakes, too. If the Rockets or Mavericks lose out on Howard, they could be so desperate for an impact center they might just go ahead and throw a max deal at Bynum. Maybe a dark horse like the Jazz, who have only five players under contract, emerges. (It’s unlikely, but we’re just riffing here.) Wherever Bynum ends up, it will not be a dream scenario. Someone will have to make a compromise, whether team, player or both. Somebody will hold their nose and turn their head while putting ink to paper. The only certainty is that I’m sure glad it’s not my money. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Stephen Curry to be named NBA MVP

Chip Kelly: Tim Tebow is here to compete for a job

Report: Nigel Williams-Goss transferring to Gonzaga

Philly store offering Eagles 'jersey insurance'

Chris Paul listed as questionable for Game 1 vs. Rockets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Pacquiao had injured shoulder, considered postponing fight

Mayweather beats Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Did Evan Mathis respond to Chip Kelly's slight with barb?

WATCH: American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby

Report: Rams trade RB Zac Stacy to Jets

Falcons draft pick's house burned down during draft

Floyd Mayweather Punch Out mock video game is great

WATCH: Tony Allen walks through children performing, gets booed

Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods have broken up

WATCH: Two games end with baserunners hit by batted balls

WATCH: Damian Lilliard delivers great graduation speech

Jets do not envision Bryce Petty starting in 2015

Clippers beat Spurs on Chris Paul shot in Game 7

Jimmy Kimmel's Manny Pacquiao T-shirt goes viral

Big fight packs airport, leaves no room for planes

Pete Carroll discusses Russell Wilson's contract status

Jim Harbaugh not happy Lou Holtz is out at ESPN

Cubs fans want Harry Caray video for seventh inning stretch

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Floyd Mayweather Punch Out mock video game is great

Report: Steph Curry to be NBA MVP

Kelly: Tebow here to compete for job

Tony Allen booed for being rude?

Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods break up

Pacquiao fought with injured shoulder?

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Report: Zac Stacy traded to Jets

Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Jerry Jones sends letter to Pacquiao

Mayweather bans Beadle, Nichols

WATCH: A-Rod fights back tears

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.