According to ESPN late last night the Sixers are involved in a multi-team deal bringing L.A. Lakers center Andrew Bynum to the team and shipping Andre Iguodala out of Philadelphia. The bigger headline, of course, is that the deal includes Dwight Howard going from the Orlando Magic to the Lakers. However, in terms of local interest, this is a potentially huge deal for Philadelphia.
The report said Iguodala is going to Denver, while Nikola Vucevic and a protected first round pick from the Sixers are going to Orlando. The Sixers get Bynum and Jason Richardson, a shooting guard from the Magic. Additional reports at philly.com say the Sixers also gave up Maurice Harkless, this year's first round draft pick.
The only thing holding me back from doing cartwheels about the deal as a fan of the Sixers is that, according to sports talk radio on Thursday, Bynum will be in the last year of his contract this coming season. Presumably, Bynum will want to test free agency and the Sixers are not seen as a marquee franchise in the NBA. Regardless, this is a win-win for the Sixers.
Bynum is still a young player in his mid-20s, and considered one of the best centers in the league. Offensively, he’s probably better than Howard, who becomes a liability at the end of games because he’s a terrible free-throw shooter. The drawbacks to Bynum are that he’s had issues with his knees and is known as a guy with an attitude problem. How he’ll react to leaving the most glorified franchise in the NBA, the Lakers, for the Sixers is a legitimate concern.
The potential upside is almost too good to be true. The last time the Sixers had a legitimate All-Star center with a low-post game who could score 15 to 18 points a game was probably Moses Malone. I’m not comparing Bynum to Malone. I’m just making the point that at least one, maybe two, generations of Sixers fans don’t even know what it’s like to have a center of this caliber on the team.
Hopefully, Doug Collins can interest Bynum in really playing for the Sixers and even re-signing with the team. As their own player, I believe they can pay him more than any other team in the league under salary cap rules.
Even in a worst case scenario situation in which Bynum sulks for a season and walks away to another team next summer, the Sixers have still rid themselves of Iguodala at least one year earlier than expected – probably two.
I’ll happily admit that I was wrong about how the Sixers should handle Iguodala this off-season. I was touting using the amnesty option for him instead of Elton Brand. I never thought they’d be able to unload his contract, let alone get an All-Star caliber center, albeit potentially for just one season, in return. I’m more shocked by the fans questioning this deal, which began being discussed as a possibility Thursday afternoon.
Feel free to believe all the hype out there about Iguodala – he is addition by subtraction in Philadelphia. He would probably be very successful somewhere as a secondary option – when I first heard of the trade I thought he might be headed to L.A. as a second fiddle to Kobe Bryant. But he was paid and treated like a main guy with the Sixers, and he’s just not that good. Iguodala was also seen as the last link to an era of mediocrity – at best – for the Sixers, and his removal should be like a refreshing new start for the team.
The Sixers have made a huge step in the right direction with this trade.