Inaction speaks louder than words.
Just ask the Philadelphia 76ers and Andrew Bynum, who will then remain vague and evasive in their answer. Then ask both parties about the mystery that has become the big man's health, and you'll be treated to even more cryptic responses.
Which doesn't tell us anything, yet tells us everything at the same time.
I'm not one for conspiracy theories (your welcome David Stern), but there does come a time when we have to acknowledge what Philadelphia isn't saying: Bynum's future with the Sixers is anything but certain.
And we're not talking about "he may not make be All-Star" uncertain, but rather, "does he even have a future with this team at all" uncertain, a circumstance Ken Berger of CBSSports.com himself acknowledges:
The same doctor also speculated that Bynum may need season-ending surgery, but such a determination has yet to be made by the doctors who actually are caring for him. Either way, you don't have to be a surgeon to figure out that this is only going in one direction for Bynum and the Sixers -- the wrong one. Since news of the setback with Bynum's other knee broke last week, rival executives have been privately wondering if Bynum would play at all this season.
Can we take speculative evidence that suggests Bynum's season may be over as fact? Absolutely not. But it would be ignorant if we didn't admit the Sixers' failure to refute such findings is troubling.
Because they can't refute it. The Sixers cannot say with any definitiveness whether Bynum will not only be back this season, but become the force he is supposed to be if he does. They can't say that they're going to re-sign him at season's end, because they don't have enough evidence to make such a decision. Not a favorable one, anyway.
Philadelphia has remained steadfast in its refusal to provide specifics because it can't do so without admitting the team may have made a mistake. Right now, the organization cannot render a verdict that doesn't provide stability.
Bynum will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and when he first arrived, his future with the Sixers seemed like a mere formality. Of course Philly was going to invest in him long term and make him the foundation for which it built the entire team upon. Why wouldn't it?
After trading away Andre Iguodala, there didn't appear to be an actual answer to the former question. Now, however, there are a battery of other questions that, in turn, provide the answer.
How can the Sixers invest nearly $100 million in not just a largely unproven talent, but a proven unhealthy one? How can they put the fate of the entire franchise on a player who has never proved he is capable of being a leader? How can this team operate on any more good faith than it already has?
They can't, and that's the problem. Addressing Bynum's current state only proves that Philadelphia is closer to drawing a conclusion that proves this was a fruitless endeavor.
Again, I'm not saying the Sixers have given up on Bynum, because they haven't. But after months of setbacks and conflicting diagnosis, hope is waning. It has to be. If it wasn't, Doug Collins, Tony DiLeo and Bynum himself would provide more definitive answers and be less somber in their demeanor.
Truth be told, Bynum's future in Philly was never written in stone. A contract still had to be signed; an accord still had to be struck.
Yet that was supposed to be the easy part. Parting ways with Iguodala was a substantial investment in itself, convincing Bynum to sign a long-term deal was supposed to be a simpler extension of that investment.
But the tables have turned, the tides have shifted and what was once a formality is now ambivalent.
The Sixers no longer have to convince Bynum they're worth his commitment; it's now up to him to prove he's worth all the trouble.
Which he hasn't. How could he?
So, of course Philadelphia is being vague. Of course it is remaining silent. After all, if there's nothing nice to be said, you're not supposed to say anything. Just ask Magic Johnson's mother.
And yet, that's the very problem. The Sixers' silence is an affirmation of the ambiguous elephant in the room; it's a silent declaration of the dubiety Bynum's future is enshrouded in.
It's a wordless assertion that this marriage is far from perfect, that everything is no longer okay.
As well as a reticent acceptance that the Sixers no longer have an idea if it will ever be again.
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