[Grantland] WINNER: The Sixers They finally made a real move! Who knew the Sixers could make trades and stuff???? I loved this particular risk for them — basically, they flipped Iguodala (with whom they never won anything), Harkless (a project), Nik Vucevic (a young banger with potential) and a protected first-rounder into the league’s second-best center and a proven/overpaid 2-guard who was out of shape for much of last year but isn’t washed up by any means (Jason Richardson).
4 They bring Bynum closer to his hometown (New Jersey), throw him in the East (where he’s immediately the best center in the conference), give him his own team and his own grateful fan base (the Sixers fans have been starving for a signature guy since Iverson left), give him 20 shots a game (which he always wanted), and hope he likes playing with Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and everyone else enough that he’ll extend long-term next summer.
My fears in order …
Fear No. 1: They’re building around someone who just played his first injury-free season in five years. You can’t forget the injury risks here, even if (to paraphrase Val Kilmer inHeat), the Bynum is worth the risk.
Fear No. 2: They’re building around two of the league’s moodiest and most enigmatic players (Bynum and Turner). That one worries me. You can get away with one enigma (see: Rondo, Rajon), but if you have two, suddenly there’s a risk that they’ll be hanging out and enabling each other’s moodiness OR trying to out-enigma each other. Not saying it can’t work … just saying it’s a red flag.
Fear No. 3: Along those same lines, Bynum is a relatively strange guy, someone who loves pushing buttons, saying head-scratching things and keeping people on their toes. In Los Angeles, nobody really cared — Kobe pulled all the attention away from him, and besides, it’s not like L.A. is a ravenous, life-or-death sports market or anything. The Laker fans love their team, but they also live near the Pacific Ocean in a place that’s 75 degrees every day. Tends to keep everything in perspective.
Put it this way: You would never put the words “Philly” and “keep everything in perspective” in the same sentence. The two craziest, most overreactionary, life-or-death sports cities in America are probably Philly and Boston — because of their cold weather, because of their provincialism, because of their respective tortured histories, and because their sports media members love nothing more than pushing people’s buttons and blowing stuff out of proportion. If Bynum thinks he can show up in Philly and loaf through a game, throw a teammate or coach under the bus, or toss out one of those weird Bynum quotes like, “For as long as I’m on the Sixers, even if it’s just for a few months, I’m gonna give it my best” … he’s sorely mistaken. Putting a Sixers uniform on Bynum is going to be riveting.
I LOVE this trade, don’t get me wrong. But if you think there are no questions, concerns then you’re wrong. If the Sixers do sign Bynum to a long term deal, which everyone is hoping for (right?), will Bynum even fit in Philadelphia?
Unlike the Flyers with Bryz, the Sixers do have a year to kind of test it before throwing chunk loads of money Bynum’s way. The personality of Bynum combined with the personality of Turner will interesting, to say the least, to watch this season.