According to more reports than you can shake a stick at, the Philadelphia 76ers will acquire Andrew Bynum (pictured above destroying the Sixers) in a four-team trade. Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic are the players reportedly on the move, and Jason Richardson will join Bynum in Philadelphia.
If/when this deal is finalized, all is forgiven. The signings of Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes are even harder to stomach with the arrival of the second-best center in the league, but it really doesn't matter. The Sixers now have the guy to build around in a 25-year-old center who is unstoppable down low. If Jrue Holiday scratches his potential, they're going to be a contender. If he doesn't, it doesn't matter. They've got the centerpiece, you can fill in the other pieces.
Obviously, Bynum needs to be locked down for the long term. I doubt he'll sign an extension, it's much more likely he'll declare free agency next summer and then re-sign in Philly on a max five-year deal. They're going to have to sell him on the franchise, but not that hard. The Sixers can, and will, offer much more money than anyone else.
Here's the starting lineup I'd like to see on opening night:
SG: Jason Richardson
SF: Dorell Wright
PF: Thad Young
C: Andrew Bynum
With this lineup, you've got a beast in the middle, you've got a super-fast four to put next to him, then two shooters on the wing to make teams pay for doubling Bynum, and you've got Jrue running the show. Sink or swim for Jrue, but I think he's up to it. There's a wrinkle I absolutely love with this lineup, when you pair Thad with Bynum, you've got the best of both worlds defensively. Thad excels at covering the pick-and-roll, and he's fast enough to switch with the other big to cover for him on the play. Bynum is a huge body who can clog the paint and challenge every shot. It's a deadly one-two combo on the defensive end, and I don't just want to see it in spurts.
This lineup would also give Turner all the freedom he needs/wants with the second unit. The Sixers suddenly became a bit light at SF. Harkless and Iguodala went out, and I think Turner has to be the backup PG, so I'm not sure how much SF you can count on from him.
These are all just details at this point. We can lament the $19M committed to Kwame and Spencer over the next two seasons. We can think about what might have been had they not signed those contracts and they had that money to use to add even more to this core, but ultimately, no one thought they'd be sitting in this position right now, and instead of wondering how they'll ever get the centerpiece, they can now start looking for a way to turn their short, garbage contracts into another big piece, if they want to. If they don't, well, they've got a 21-year-old PG and a 25-year-old center and all the time in the world to fit the right pieces around them.
It's a good night to be a Sixers fan...something we haven't been able to say (and really believe) for quite a long time.
One final, important note. Andre Iguodala was a great Sixer for eight seasons. A great Sixer who was bashed by the hometown fans mercilessly and it's fitting that his final gift to the franchise and the city is being the piece that allows them to land the superstar who could transform the franchise. Iguodala will be missed and I wish him nothing but the best in Denver. Thanks, AI9.