Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarakaowjwskdsowhskski reports that the Sixers, Lakers, Magic and Nuggets are involved in talks for a blockbuster four-team trade that would land the Sixers Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol and send Andre Iguodala to Denver. Yes, please: [Yahoo!]
There are multiple moving parts in the fluid talks, but the framework of a possible deal includes Howard and Denver forward Al Harrington going to the Lakers, Philadelphia guard Andre Iguodala going to the Nuggets, Los Angeles center Andrew Bynum moving to the 76ers, and Los Angeles forward Pau Gasol and Denver guard Arron Affalo going to the Magic, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
He goes on to say that Bynum or Gasol could be the player who goes to the Sixers.
That’s great. Really, it is. But it’s hard to get too excited. The key player in the deal, Howard, would be going elsewhere, making someone else a title contender.
Lately, we’ve gotten used to the Phillies (pre-end of days days), Eagles and Flyers going after big-time, big-name players in their respective quests for a championship (none have paid off– the Phillies’ spending has come in the Amaro years… and, well, they’ve gone backwards each year). The Sixers, however, still play the patsy, a means to an end, for other teams. Bynum and Gasol are fine players, both undoubtedly better than Iguodala (trust me, I’d applaud the trade), but it’s swapping a Robin for a Robin. Admittedly, the Sixers would be trading Chris O’Donnell’s Robin for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s. But they’d still be getting the Robin to Howard’s, um, Superman.
The last eight teams to win championships have had either LeBron, Dirk, Kobe, Celtics trio, or Duncan. Winning teams need stars. And while it was a long shot that Howard was going to wind up in Philly, it’s hard to get too excited when the Sixers play a mere supporting role in helping another team (Lakers) land the all-around best player in the deal.
Still, getting Bynum would be a good thing.
Bill Simmons, whose basketball trade value list is my go-to for NBA player rankings, had Bynum at 21 this past year, up from 38 in 2011.
Here’s what Simmons wrote in each of those years:
It's straight DNA: Some dudes are structurally built for 82-game NBA seasons, others aren't. So if you make the argument "If Bynum can stay healthy, he's a franchise center," just make sure you also mention that we have 35 years of evidence that there's a tipping point when "If he can stay healthy …" becomes "… he's not going to stay healthy." We're there with Andrew Bynum. He's not going to stay healthy. If I were the Lakers, I would trade him right now.
Has there ever been a better "We'd be selling high if we traded him right now" example? From 2007 through 2011, Bynum played 35, 50, 65 and 54 games. Miraculously, he's played 35 consecutive games this season … in a lockout-shortened season, no less! We keep hearing that Jimmy Dolan 2.0 (a.k.a. Jimmy Buss)3 won't trade Bynum because that's his guy, but man, wouldn't it make sense to flip a healthy-right-now-at-this-moment Bynum for a point guard and/or multiple pieces for one last three-year run behind Kobe and Gasol? What am I missing? Could you get Lowry, Chase Budinger and Luis Scola for him? What about Nash and Gortat? What about Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert? What about Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia and Jeff Teague? What about Elton Brand, Nik Vucevic and Evan Turner for Bynum and cap fodder? What about … ?
Besides the prophetic Sixers drop, Simmons makes it clear that it’s all about staying healthy for Bynum, which he did this year. [As a comparison, Howard finished at number six on Simmons' list.]
Bynum would be a great stopgap for the Sixers. He’s only 24 and has one year left on his deal, which pays him about $16 million, just a little over a million more than Iggy. He would give the Sixers a legitimate big-man upgrade (over Elton Brand) and moving Iguodala would meaning getting rid of one of their 22 rawly athletic swingmen. If Bynum proves to be someone the Sixers want to build around, they would presumably get first crack at extending him long-term. If not, they would take a step forward next year and still have cap room to sign players as part of next summer’s outstanding free agent group.
It’s a great proposed trade, and I’d LOVE to see Andre Iguodala go elsewhere. Really– somewhere, anywhere. But the Sixers still wouldn’t be getting their superstar.