As reported by Marc Stein—and subsequently Khandyman Sports—the Philadelphia 76ers and general manager Rod Thorn pulled the trigger on their first-high profile deal of the offseason, trading All-Star forward Andre Iguodala to Denver and former first-round picks Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless to Orlando in exchange for center Andrew Bynum and 2-guard Jason Richardson.
In the same trade, the Lakers received Dwight Howard while the Magic also received three future first-round picks (one from each team), Al Harrington, an Arron Afflalo.
ESPN Stats & Info helps point out one flaw in Bynum’s game that the entire offense will have to work around:
Andrew Bynum scored fewest Pts per post-up play in NBA last season when he was double-teamed among 31 players w/ 50+ post-up plays.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 10, 2012
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s John Mitchell explained why the Sixers were willing to part Harkless so soon:
Source: Harkless was the final piece to the deal. Sixers loved him but Orlando, wanting to get younger, had to have him.
— john mitchell (@JmitchInquirer) August 10, 2012
The Liberty Ballers’ Michael Levin explains the desperation the Sixers faced:
Andrew Bynum will be the Sixers first legitimate center since Matt Geiger.
— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) August 10, 2012
NBA analyst Matt Moore, a.k.a Hardwood Paroxysm, takes a look at a humorous side note:
Lavoy Allen and Andrew Bynum. ALL OF YOUR FLAGRANT FOULS ARE BELONG TO US.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) August 10, 2012
Obviously, I’ll focus more on this later as I analyze the trade from a Sixers perspective, but I definitely see more positives than negatives for Philadelphia.
With Iguodala and Harkless out, the depth chart has shifted in a good way with Evan Turner likely starting at the 3 and Nick Young taking over shooting guard duties. Jason Richardson will, in all likelihood, come off the bench as an offensive asset. A 1-2-3 combo of Holiday, Young, and Turner won’t be as good as one with Iguodala in the lineup, but it’s pretty darn good considering the frontcourt improvement the trade brings.
The Magic seem to deserve an “F” for their efforts, but as Moore points out, they didn’t do too badly. Afflalo will be a nice shooting guard for years to come, Harkless has the potential to be a All-Star-caliber small forward if he can develop nicely, Vucevic can be a solid backup for a decade and three first-round picks are never bad.
Of course, they clearly made a mistake by denying the Nets’ final offer of Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and four unconditional first-round picks, but at least they were able to end the “Dwightmare” before the start of training camp.
Why do the Los Angeles Lakers always catch lucky breaks?
Four years ago, it was Pau Gasol. Earlier this offseason, it was Steve Nash. And now Mitch Kupchak has acquired Dwight Howard, putting together a starting lineup that reminds one of an All-Star team more than a NBA squad. With four perennial All-Stars, Los Angeles has clearly taken a lot of power back from Oklahoma City and Miami.
They figure to be the championship favorites with Nash running pick-and-rolls game-after-game with the more mobile Gasol and Howard.
Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri has begun to establish himself as one of the league’s top general managers, and he only added to his resume by rounding out a solid Denver starting five with All-Star Andre Iguodala. All he gave up were Afflalo, Al Harrington and a conditional first-round pick which figures to be a low one considering the firepower on this roster.
The Nuggets had been missing a solid perimeter defensive presence for a long time, and now they have one with Iggy. Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari will be a deadly 1-2 punch, Kenneth Faried and Javale McGee will be tough nuts to crack, and Iguodala will be the team’s lockdown defender and second offensive option.
I might even go as far to say they did better here than in the Carmelo Anthony trade from two years ago.
It’s hard to seriously criticize this move, one that has been requested by the fans for years, but I’ll try to stay objective as I consider the positives and negatives of the trade. First, like always, the negatives.
This move came completely out of the blue, going against everything the team has tried to accomplish earlier in the free agency period. While the Sixers fanbase can’t be upset with the addition of the league’s second-best center, there is reason to question the validity of signing Kwame Brown to a two-year contract when the goal was to bring in a high-profile big man like Bynum in the first place. Sure, this may have been a last-second move, but it still counteracts the team’s earlier moves to add frontcourt depth.
Second, Bynum’s deal is up after the season, and it’s likely that the 24-year old will test the free agent market with serious intentions of leaving Philadelphia. If Bynum does in fact sign with another team, the Sixers’ “cupboards” will be proverbially bare and the team will be nursing wounds that could hurt for a couple more years.
Then, of course, there is the loss of All-Star Andre Iguodala, his highlight-reel dunks and MVP-caliber defense. While it may have been necessary to trade him, there is no doubt that the team regresses at the small forward position without Iggy.
The final negative is the fact that Thorn is giving up on this year’s No. 15 overall pick, Moe Harkless, before he even played an NBA game. I know you can’t compare Bynum and Harkless, but losing him could be a huge blow if he blossoms and Bynum leaves after 2012-2013.
Now, to the positives.
The clear difference between the Sixers and Celtics last postseason was scoring from the big men, with Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand struggling while Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett flourished. Now, with a star center, the Sixers are serious contenders to get the fourth or even the third seed in the East.
Andrew Bynum isn’t the most mobile of players, but his ability to set up in the low post will help both the Sixers’ offensive rebounding and half-court efficiency. And, of course, the dreaded future of Kwame Brown as a starting center has been thrown aside.
The following depth chart doesn’t look too shabby from my perspective:
|PG||Jrue Holiday||Nick Young|
|SG||Evan Turner||Jason Richardson|
|SF||Dorell Wright||Thad Young (6th Man)|
|PF||Spencer Hawes||L. Allen/A. Moultrie|
|C||Andrew Bynum||Kwame Brown|
Next, the Sixers will have the best chance to re-sign Bynum of anyone in the league. As per the new CBA, they are allowed to offer him five years and close to $100 million, while the rest of the league can only go for four years and $78-80 million.
In addition, with the $17 million they could possibly save by cutting ties with Dorell Wright, Nick Young and Kwame Brown after the season, the Sixers could also help lure other free agents like Chris Paul and Monta Ellis to form what could become a new dynasty.
Oh, and don’t forget about Jason Richardson, a deadly three-point shooter who is exactly what Jodie Meeks wasn’t in last year’s postseason.
With attendance and interest waning, the Sixers needed something to energize the franchise. Adding someone as dominant as Bynum was a huge step in the right direction, as the city might finally have a player who can please people like its last superstar, Allen Iverson.