By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun
With the Sixers acquisition of Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson in a blockbuster four-team deal involving the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, two eras came to an end in the City of Brotherly of Love.
One was a long time in coming and the other never got started.
Gone from the Sixers are longtime veteran forward Andre Iguodala, who is headed to the Nuggets. The Maurice Harkless “era” came to a screeching halt before it began. The Sixers 2012 first-round draft [pick along with 2011 first-round pick forward Nik Vucevic and a protected first-round pick for next year were dealt to the Orlando Magic.
The seven-foot Bynum, who is native of nearby Plainsboro, N.J. averaged a career-high 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers last season and played in his first NBA All-Star game. He is arguably the second-best center in the NBA next to the man who will take his place in Los Angeles—Dwight Howard.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old, seven-foot tall Bynum will give the Sixers they haven’t had since the days of Moses Malone, a consistent scoring and rebounding presence in the low post. Sixers general manager Rod Thorn said Bynum’s size and ability to score in the paint will create scoring opportunities for Sixers guard and wing players,, especially like Richardson.
“Any time you have a low post center, he’s going to draw attention, double teams and you need shooting,” Thorn said. “If you look at our roster right now, we have a (Jrue) Holiday who’s good outside shooter, we have Nick Jones, we have Dorrell Wright, and now we have Jason Richardson, who’s quality outside shooter. “
Richardson, the former Michigan State Spartan, has been in the league for 11 years and has averaged 17.5 points per game and has played 805 games. For his career, Richardson is shooting 37.2 percent from three-point range.
As much as the team loved Iguodala’s on-court versatility and his athleticism, Thorn said the team needed someone with the ability to score in the low post when the game is on the game line, something that was lacking from the Sixers in the 2012 playoffs.
“(Iguodala) is not the player who’s going to dominate late in the ball game, but he is a fantastic player, playing for Denver he’ll be a fantastic player for them as well, “ Thorn said. “From our perspective, (Bynum) is going to have a huge impact on the court. He’s an all-round player with size, skills and strength. He’s got the whole package.”
Over a month and a half ago, the Sixers were raving over the potential of rookie Maurice Harkless and the impact he would ultimately have on the team once he got on the court. However, the opportunity to get one of the league’s premiere centers was just too good to pass up. Harkless was the deal -maker for the Sixers.
“I was loathing to include (Harkless) in it, but when you look at the bottomline you’ve got to give up something to get something,” Thorn said. “If we didn’t include Harkless in the deal we wouldn’t have been able to make the deal.”
Bynum does bring a championship pedigree to the Sixers, winning two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. Sixers head coach Doug Collins, who is in London doing the color commentary for NBC’s Olympic basketball coverage, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was definitely happy with the trade.
“We think we’ve gotten bigger on the front line,” Collins said. “We’re more athletic. We’re bigger on the perimeter, we’ve added shooting. All the things, we set out to do, we think we’ve done that.”
The downside to the talented Bynum is that he has a reputation for being a head case both on and off the court during his days with the Lakers. But Thorn said he believes the Sixers new center won’t be much of a problem in Philadelphia.
“We see Bynum as an intelligent, competitive guy who’s had some maturity things over the course of his years with the Lakers, but we don’t see any problem there at all,” Thorn said. “We think he’s smart and his maturity level has gone up every year. That was not an issue with us at all. We like everything we see about him and think he’ll fit in great with us.”