If Andrew Bynum never puts on a 76ers uniform, make no mistake about it, this will go down as one of the worst deals in the history of the NBA, a transaction that will have a ripple effect perhaps for years to come.
When the Sixers traded for Bynum after a two-series run in the playoffs, no one expected that this team wouldn't be better adding the 7-footer.
Fifty wins should have been a given.
That kind of success would have let new and untested general manager Tony DiLeo off the hook and allowed him an easier transition into his position. Now DiLeo, whose hiring in September wasn't met with across-the-board approval from fans, ventures into uncharted waters needing to resuscitate the Sixers.
Trading for Bynum, who may not re-sign with the Sixers (and who may never be healthy enough to warrant the franchise's taking that risk) could have allowed DiLeo to venture into free agency this summer knowing that he had at least the second-best center in the league and a legitimate all-star point guard in Jrue Holiday. Evan Turner - who theoretically was supposed to be vastly improved by Bynum's presence - would have blossomed and Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes, and Lavoy Allen would have increased their value as a result of playing alongside Bynum.
While it would be wonderful if Bynum - an unrestricted free agent - gave the Sixers special consideration in light of all that they lost in trading for him and the agonizing wait for him to return, a team source with knowledge of the situation said last week that he does not believe that will be the case.
The Sixers ultimately may have nothing to show for this deal - no Bynum, no Nik Vucevic, who looks as if he could be a budding star with the Magic, no Maurice Harkless, blossoming in his own way in Orlando, and one less first-round draft pick.
All once sparkling assets, they now are reminders of a potentially franchise-crippling mistake by the front office.
Much was made about who won the perceived power struggle between Sixers coach Doug Collins, who received an extension right before this disastrous season, and president Rod Thorn, whose contract expires later this year. Thorn will then become a consultant with the organization.
This, however, is not the time to lose an NBA lifer such as Thorn. While DiLeo is a proven judge of talent, his skills as a negotiator have yet to be tested for the task of rebuilding a franchise.
Who is to say that the basketball gods that have tortured the Sixers and their fans week after agonizing week with Bynum health updates might not begin casting favor on the Sixers?
The only way this situation can get any better or rectify itself is for Bynum to somehow, someway become healthy enough to resume his career - if it's just for two seasons - in Philadelphia.
DiLeo has referred to Bynum, who has worn a Sixers uniform only for his introduction at the Constitution Center and for the team's media day, as Plan A.
They'd better hope so. Plan B could usher the Sixers into a version of the Dark Ages.