Criticized for their lack of involvement in the free-agency market, the 76ers on Thursday night took part in the biggest trade of the offseason, acquiring Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum in a four-team trade. The Sixers also acquired veteran shooting guard Jason Richardson in the deal.
In order to acquire Bynum and Richardson, the Sixers dealt Andre Iguodala to Denver; Nik Vucevic to Orlando; and this year's first-round pick, Maurice Harkless, was also dealt to Orlando.
The Lakers acquired Dwight Howard, and the Magic also acquired Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and one protected future first-round pick from each of the other three teams.
The deal makes the Sixers, who extended the Boston Celtics to a Game 7 in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this past season, one of the bigger and more athletic teams in the league.
Bynum is in the last year of his contract and will be looking for a new deal. However, the Sixers have his "Bird" rights and, as a result, will be able to offer him a five-year deal in the range of $100 million in order to keep him in the fold beyond next season. Other teams wishing to sign Bynum will only be able to offer him a four-year deal in the range of $78-80 million.
"The Sixers have a huge advantage in terms of keeping him because of the extra year they can sign him to," a source said. "You don't often see a guy walk away from an organization unless he can't stand the organization and the feeling is mutual, because there is just too much money left on the table."
Entering the final year of his contract, Bynum is scheduled to make slightly less than $16.5 million this season. It would be to the Sixers' benefit to know if Bynum would be willing to sign a long-term deal. Otherwise he could wind up being a rental, and the Sixers could find themselves trying to deal the center at the trade deadline.
The good news for the Sixers is that there would almost certainly be a robust market for Bynum, even though he has had surgery on both knees and has missed significant playing time.
Taken by the Lakers with the 10th pick in the 2005 draft, Bynum has played all 82 games of a season just once in his career. Although he appeared in 60 of 66 possible games this past season, Bynum appeared in just 204 of a possible 328 games from the 2007-08 season through 2010-11.
While Iguodala, 28, is the Sixers' longest-tenured player and their first Olympian since Allen Iverson in 2004, the feeling in the city is that the eight-year veteran has reached his peak and is incapable of leading the Sixers deep into the playoffs.
Iguodala is scheduled to make $14.7 million in 2012-13, the first of two years remaining on his contract, and is owed about $30 million over the next two seasons. Last season he averaged 12.4 points, the fourth straight season his scoring average fell. While he shot better than 45 percent from the floor, Iguodala shot an atrocious 61.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Iguodala was easily the best defensive player on a very good defensive team, so trading him weakens the Sixers defensively on the perimeter. However, last season they did not have a legitimate shot-blocker. Bynum gives them that presence at the rim.
Contact John N. Mitchell at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer