Jul 11, 2013, 1:35 AM EST
Well, that’s that then. Apparently the Sixers’ pitch to Andrew Bynum wasn’t quite good enough, and now he’s gone and signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bynum will join the Cavaliers’ up-and-coming collection of top-five talent–#1 overall picks Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett, and #4s Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters–as a likely up-and-coming team in the Eastern Conference, and down the road, perhaps even a re-landing spot for LeBron James should he decide to forgo quintiple-peating or whatever with the Miami Heat.
Thus ends Andrew Bynum’s time as a Philadelphia 76er, with a grand total of zero minutes played in the Red, White and Blue, and a tab of Andre Iguodala, two prospects and a future first-round pick that he will never collect on for the Sixers. We can’t say we didn’t have memories with Drew during his short time in Philly, but I think we all hoped those memories would be more about playoff wins and All-Star appearances than ridiculous haircuts and bowling tragedies. Nevertheless, he is gone, unlikely to ever return, and the Sixers franchise and fanbase has little choice but to suck it up and get over it.
Of course, this hardly comes as a surprise to Sixers fans, who had long since written off Bynum as a sunk cost, and in many cases, didn’t even want the injury-ridden big man back in the fold. The acquisition of Sam Hinkie as GM and subsequent draft-night trade for Jrue Holiday were fairly large indicators that returning Bynum would not be an off-season priority for the team, and we here at the Level basically assumed they would only go after Drew if they felt they could get him for decently below market value. Two years for $24 mil is a pretty decent get for Bynum, however, and it was unlikely that Hinkie would match or best such an offer for the rebuilding Sixers. Adios, Andrew.
Some stiuplations do come with those figures for Bynum, however, as only $6 mil of the $24 total is guaranteed. That six is guaranteed for the first year, with the rest coming on player incentives, and the second year is a team option, which essentially means that Bynum is a one-year, make-good experiment for the Cavs, and they can wipe the slate clean in time to go after the big 2014 free agents if so desired. I’m a little surprised that a team like Dallas, whose backup plan to Bynum at this point is going after our other old friend Samuel Dalembert, didn’t just throw a couple mil more his way for the season and just say what the hell, but whatever–everyone says this is the best deal Drew was getting, so may as well take it to play with Kyrie and company on a team with a virtually ceiling-less future.
Personally, I’ll still probably root for him. I can’t say Andrew Bynum’s time as a Philadelphia 76er endeared him to me all that greatly, but I still don’t really blame him for his missing the whole season, and I still think he’s one of the league’s more compelling talents (and more interesting personalities) when healthy enough for his eccentricities to not seem overbearing. If he wants to build something with the kids out in the Cleve, I say go for it. I’ll be at least a little bit bitter if he’s 100% healthy for the rest of his career and leads the Cavs to the upper echelon of the East as he was supposed to with the Sixers, but I’ll be cursing the basketball gods more than Bynum specifically. At the end of the day, he really doesn’t owe us anything.
Mostly, I’m just bummed that it never happened, that it’s never gonna happen with the Sixers and Bynum. So much excitement, so much worry, so much emotional bargaining, all in the name of a payoff that never came. It’s not gonna be easy to get over, but at least with the Sixers’ new management, there’s a plan in place for a post-Bynum future, and it’s not inconceivable that in a couple years, we’ll be much better set for the future than we ever would have been with Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday leading the way for the Liberty Ballers. Until then…well, let’s all get used to a lot of losing, and a lot of watching college basketball and fantasizing about who the next guy to really get the Sixers to contention could be.
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