Sixers say Andrew Bynum ‘happy’ about trade, intend to sign him longterm

When was the last time the Sixers acquired a true franchise player? The year was 1996 and the “Answer “ was Allen Iverson. They kept him in town for more than a decade.

Thursday night’s stunning, blockbuster trade that brought Andrew Bynum to town also brought longevity questions. The 7-footer’s contract is up after this season, making him an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013. Can the Sixers, devoid of star power for so long, convince Bynum to be the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future?

“Our feeling is we will have a very good chance to sign Bynum for several reasons, “ president Rod Thorn said. “He’s very happy about getting traded to us. He thinks we have a good team and he’s very happy about it.

As Thorn mentioned, the Sixers will have a lot going in their favor next summer. Although Bynum has spent his entire professional career in the glitz of Los Angeles, he calls nearby Plainsboro, N.J. home, a town is about an hour’s drive from the Wells Fargo Center. (Bynum also has a fondness for one of the local strip clubs).

The Sixers also acquired his “Bird Rights” in the trade, meaning they will be able to offer him about $20 million more than any other team. And finally, Bynum is a very confident guy that craves being a team’s star. He didn’t always appear content to share the Lakers’ spotlight with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

“I think he’s wanted to get back to the East Coast,” coach Doug Collins told reporters while in London broadcasting the Olympics. “We think Andrew is going to want to stick around. I think the change of scenery is going to be good for him.”

Analyzing the trade: Highway robbery?

The Sixers gave up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless, Nik Vucevic and a protected first-round pick in exchange for Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson.

Did they lose some quality assets? Certainly. Did they get one of the most unique basketball players in the world? Definitely.

As the Sixers have found out, swingmen are readily available in every draft. Recently, we’ve seen them draft Iguodala, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Harkless and Rodney Carney. What we haven’t seen is a true, back-to-basket center than commands double teams on every possession.

Bynum, at 7-feet, 285 pounds, averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season while playing in the shadow of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. If his scoring numbers don’t rise as the clear man in Philadelphia, it will be a major disappointment.

“He might be the best low-post center in the NBA,” Doug Collins said. “You can throw the ball in to him, he can score, he can defend, he can rebound.”

The new starting lineup

PG: Jrue Holiday (22) » Needs to up his playmaking with Iguodala gone.

SG: Jason Richardson (31) » Brings much-needed, elite 3-point shooting.

SF: Evan Turner (23) » His time to shine as the versatile swingman.

PF: Thaddeus Young (24) » Bulky Bynum fits perfectly with slender Young.

C: Andrew Bynum (24) » The second-best true center in the NBA.

*age in parentheses

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