UNDER CONTRACT: C Andrew Bynum, G Jrue Holiday, G-F Evan Turner, C Spencer Hawes, F Dorell Wright, F Thaddeus Young, G Nick Young, G Jason Richardson, C Lavoy Allen, F-C Kwame Brown, G Royal Ivey
DRAFT PICKS: F-C Arnett Moultrie
FREE AGENTS: C Tony Battie
MOVES: After eight years with the underappreciated but underqualified Andre Iguodala as their top player, the 76ers finally have a true star. As part of the Dwight Howard deal, Philadelphia traded Iguodala – coming off an All-Star season and a Team USA berth – to Denver and got back Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers. Bynum immediately becomes the best center in the Eastern Conference and changes the focal point of the offense from the perimeter to the post. In the deal, the Sixers also sent Nikola Vucevic, rookie Moe Harkless and a 2015 first-round pick to Orlando, getting back veteran Jason Richardson, whose 3-point shooting could be a serious weapon off the bench. The acquisition of Bynum capped an offseason that saw the Sixers get much bigger and stronger. GM Rod Thorn began the offseason by taking RFA Lavoy Allen off the market with a relatively cheap two-year, $3 million deal. They retained starting center Spencer Hawes with a two-year, $13 million contract and plan on playing him at power forward. By using the amnesty clause on Elton Brand – who had one year and $18 million remaining – Philadelphia was able to sign Nick Young to a one-year, $6 million deal and add Dorell Wright and his one year at $4.1 million from Golden State, sending Eurotrash Edin Bavcic to New Orleans in a three-team swap. Both Young and Wright can shoot a little bit. The cap room also facilitated the signing of backup big Kwame Brown to a two-year, $6 million deal. Philadelphia also brought back Royal Ivey, who looks like Jrue Holiday’s backup at point guard. Once the roster appeared set, the 76ers finally completed their search for a successor to VP Rod Thorn, who is in the final year of his three-year deal and is looking to move into a consulting role. They interviewed former Blazers GM Tom Penn, former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren and Rockets VP Sam Hinkie before keeping it in house and promoting Tony DiLeo, who has held virtually every position in the organization except GM. DiLeo apparently was instrumental in getting the deal for Bynum done.
TO-DO LIST: Now DiLeo has to do another Bynum deal: Get his signature on a contract that takes him well into this decade. Bynum is clearly the future cornerstone, and if he cannot be -resigned, the trade is a failure. Bynum is from nearby New Jersey, but he wouldn’t be the first player to leave town because he wasn’t shown brotherly love by Philly’s fanatics. Despite the presence of veterans such as Wright, Richardson and Nick Young, the 76ers brought in Josh Howard for a two-day workout. The Sixers still have to find out what Evan Turner can do, and Holiday also recently said he will be seeking a maximum contract extension, another chore for DiLeo.
PROJECTION: We initially thought the Sixers would have to take a step back in order to make giant strides forward, but dumping Brand and acquiring Bynum changed all that. After coming within four minutes of the conference finals, Philadelphia was a huge offseason player and appears committed to contending with Miami, Boston and Indiana for supremacy in the East. The Sixers are not quite there yet, but the roster is filled with young players who haven’t approached their ceilings and will improve simply through experience. This team is positioned for a potential quantum leap. And if Bynum decides to stay, the Sixers could be good for a while.
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