Writing in Hardwood Paroxysm, friend of the blog Jordan White did yeoman’s work on Monday inspecting all that’s gone wrong with the Sixers and weighing the relative pros and cons of the different roads out of the wilderness for the hard-luck franchise. The picture he paints isn’t an optimistic one.
In a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the Philadelphia 76ers were the rising stars of the Eastern Conference. They had traded away Andre Iguodala and acquired Andrew Bynum, perhaps their first true player around whom they could build a contending team. The possibilities seemed endless: Bynum down low, surrounded by capable shooters, or perhaps forming a dangerous two man game with up-and-coming point guard Jrue Holliday. No longer would Evan Turner, forever tantalizing and forever disappointing, be forced to shoulder the offensive load, instead cutting and weaving through a defense whilst wrecking havoc on whomever dared to guard him. Perhaps they would not contend right away, but a plan was in place, and the future was bright.
Of course, it didn’t work out quite that way.
White went on to zoom in on the Bynum situation, and the peculiar bind the Sixers find themselves in w/r/t the seven footer. Not only does management have to assign a dollar/year valuation to, health considered, one of the more difficult free agents to peg in NBA history, but they have to contend with a handful of other teams that will surely que up to take a flier on Bynum. Good luck, White says.
They’ll need it. My feeling is this: what’s in the best interest of both the Sixers and Bynum is for the center to remain in Philadelphia. (That is, if he’s going to be healthy enough to continue playing basketball going forward–a big if.) The Sixers need Bynum because he’s the second-best center in the NBA when he’s on the floor, while Bynum needs the Sixers because they can give him the most money. But given the uncertainty surrounding his health, and the noises the team has made, it seems unlikely they’d make more than a very short term commitment. Would Bynum then sign a one or two year deal to stay in Philadelphia and, knees permitting, restore his value? Would he turn down more guaranteed money this summer to get in to ass-kicking/name-taking shape and make even more down the road?
Considered this way, the Sixers ability to come to terms with Bynum might not boil down to the team making a bet on the center, but on the center rolling the dice and making a bet on himself. For both sides, the stakes couldn’t be much higher.