Following the biggest practice story since AI went on his now infamous tirade, Doug Collins tempered expectations for Bynum with a few slightly harsh words:
"He looked like a guy who hadn’t played in nine months. I don’t think any bells and whistles should be sent off that he’s close to playing."
The soundbite caught me off guard, as regardless of Bynum's game readiness, you would think that a sign of Bynum getting closer to playing would thrill Doug. But since he's coaching a struggling team that is downright painful to watch play on a lot of nights, I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt. At least I was, until I saw this blurb from Ric Bucher last night:
"As additional subtext for Doug Collins' depressingly pessimistic take on how Andrew Bynum looked in his first team practice this season -- Collins basically said Bynum's absence killed the 76ers' season and he sees little chance of Bynum returning to change that based on how he looked -- sources say that Collins has been consumed (does he do anything any other way?) with tracking the boxscores and performances of Moe Harkless, the rookie forward the Sixers sent to Orlando as part of the deal that netted them Bynum. I can't say I've watched a load of Magic games this season or have a feel for the kind of season Harkless has had, but he's 19 and more or less has been in the rotation making a contribution all season long. That's more, obviously, than Bynum has done and it's not hard for me to imagine Collins torturing himself (and, quite possibly, others) with that fact."
There are a few layers of confusion for me here, primarily Doug obsessing over a 19 year old rookie who is no longer a member of the team. As has been debated on LB incessantly, Collins loves himself some veterans, often at the cost of developing his younger, more raw talent. We watched it play out first hand last spring, as Vuc was chained to the bench while Spencer Hawes continued to shoot 19 footers and play the worst defense this side of Andrea Bargnani, and we're seeing it again as Arnett Moultrie continues to be glued to the pine.
There seems to be a mental disconnect on Collins' part; it's as if he doesn't understand that for young players to make an impact or potentially help the team down the line, they actually have to be given the chance to play meaningful minutes in NBA games. How can Doug the scout, the guy who allegedly wanted to take Derrick Favors over the more polished Evan Turner, and is now obsessing with a raw "toolsy" guy like Harkless, coexist with Doug the coach, who has continually preferred to give minutes to NBA non-entities like Damian Wilkins, Royal Ivey, and Kwame Brown?
I'm in agreement with most of the staff writers here in that I don't think that Doug Collins is a horrible coach. It's not by accident that they have been solid at worst defensively during his tenure despite a big-man rotation that is often putrid at best. But his reluctance to give players quality minutes that the franchise has used past and future assets to acquire shows a disconnect from the franchise's long term goal of building a contender, and when paired with his unimaginative, inefficient offense, it is my hope that the Sixers look for a new man at the helm this offseason.