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Can Andrew Bynum handle Philadelphia? And will he stay after 2013?


Even though the Eagles were making headlines Thursday night in their preseason opener, another sports team in this city seem to be the ones that grabbed the big story.
No, it’s not Dwight Howard, but it looks like the Sixers finally landed a legitimate big man.

The Sixers have traded Olympian Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets as part of a four-team deal that would bring Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Orlando Magic shooting guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia. The Sixers would also send Nikola Vucevic and 2012 No. 1 draft pick  Moe Harkless to the Magic, while Howard is apparently on his way to the Lakers.  ESPN is reporting the deal is done, and things could be finalized by Friday pending approval by the NBA.
Andre Iguodala photo: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
I know it’s a lot to digest here, and before we go any further, let me get a few things out of the way:

-In making this trade, the Lakers clearly showed why they are the Lakers. To get Howard as well as Steve Nash this offseason without having to give up (as of now) Pau Gasol is something only they could do. It kills me to say this, but nonetheless, it’s true. On the downside, Kobe Bryant isn’t getting any younger, and Nash will be 39 by season’s end. The time is now for the Lakers. And in the long run, it all depends if they can sign Howard after 2013 as to whether this deal was worth it. However, something tells me the Lakers will work their magic again and sign Howard after 2013. How do I know? Because they’re the Lakers, and everything always goes right for them.....

-With just one trade, the Orlando Magic have become this year’s version of the 2010 Cleveland Cavaliers. Well, not really. But whenever you lose the best center in the NBA and get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, plus Vucevic and Harkless in return, I have five words for you that will make you shiver: Curt Schilling to the Diamondbacks.

If Orlando does land Gasol in this deal, it softens the blow a little. However, the Magic really should have asked for Bynum in return to be honest. Who knows? Maybe they did. I’m not a Magic fan, but you always like to see a team recoup some of their losses in a trade as big as this. After all, how many times have Philly fans been on the short end of that stick?  At the end of the day, all is not completely lost for the Magic. The team also will receive a protected 1st-round pick from each of the other three teams.
Andrew Bynum photo: ambasketball.com
Anyway, onto the good stuff.  If this trade goes through, the Sixers acquired arguably the second best center in the NBA in Bynum. He’s coming off his best year in the pros, averaging 18.7 points per game while grabbing 11.8 rebounds. Furthermore, Bynum does have two championship rings with the Lakers, which is something that can come in handy if this team progresses to the point of becoming championship contenders.

However, all isn’t perfect just yet in Sixerville. Bynum has been known to have attitude issues, is often injury prone, and there is no guarantee he will even remain with the Sixers after his contract expires after the 2012-2013 season. This won’t mesh well with Doug Collins or Sixers fans if this goes sour. Also keep in mind that Bynum is coming from the Lake Show to Philadelphia. Would that exactly motivate you? To be honest, that might not be as much of an issue as you think. Bynum originally hails from New Jersey, so it’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the east coast.

On the other side of the coin, Bynum is a tremendous talent who is capable of dominating games, and the Sixers will be able to offer him more money than other teams when the time comes for a possible extension. Bynum has something to prove going into his free agent year, so hopefully he’ll remain on the straight and narrow.

As for Iguodala, he’s one of the best defenders in the league, which is something the Sixers will sorely miss this upcoming season. However, when have the opportunity to land Bynum, a true shot blocker and a rebounder that this team sorely needs, it’s something you can’t pass up. In helping lead the Sixers to the brink of the Eastern Conference Finals last May, Iguodala bowed out of Philadelphia on a nice note. At the same time, he finally earned some respect from the Sixers’ fan base. While never becoming quite the superstar many expected him to be, I wish him luck in Denver as well as the rest of his career.

When things are confirmed in the next few days, a brand new era in Sixers basketball will be underway.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Andre Iguodala photo: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Bynum photo: ambasketball.com