Short- and Long-Term Solutions as Philadelphia 76ers Await Andrew Bynum's Return
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One of the beautiful parts of a new acquisition is all of the hope and wonder that comes along with it. Unfortunately, depending on where you stand, one of the negatives is that people have to talk about what happens if the investment fails.
Well, that's where we're at now. The Sixers have decisions that must be made if Bynum's return doesn't go quite as planned. To be specific, they have decisions that will need to be made with their frontcourt.
Here's a look at four short- and long-term frontcourt solutions for Philly as it awaits the return of Andrew Bynum.
Short-Term Solution: Be Patient
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The most likely of all the scenarios is that Andrew Bynum will come back from his recent knee procedure and be just fine.
It’s too easy to automatically assume that a procedure being done on a 24-year-old’s knee is a bad thing. In all reality, it probably needs to be looked at in a positive way.
Bynum getting work done on his knees now is much better than him starting to get work done on them when he turns 30. On top of that, he’s not getting work done because he hurt it again.
This recent procedure is to prolong the health of his knees. Think of it like a dental cleaning. Yes, a dental cleaning. The longer he goes without getting his knee cleaned up and looked at, the worse the end result could be. He’s strictly getting preventative treatment.
This is why a short-term solution for the Sixers is to just be patient.
One of the luxuries of a full season is that the month of October isn’t the time to rush getting someone back on the floor. If Bynum is really only trying to prolong his career by getting a procedure on his knees, then be confident in knowing that he’ll return to the court at full health.
There isn’t much to this one. Waiting and being patient is the clearest solution to a potential frontcourt problem. Hopefully, his return means that a problem won't ever arise.
Short-Term Solution: Play a Smaller Rotation
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If Bynum does end up taking longer than expected to return, then the Sixers have a clear option based on their roster. They need to play small.
Playing small is a bit of an exaggeration based on Philly’s squad. The team is significantly taller than they were last year. Still, though, if the decision is between Bynum and another player, then chances are good that the other player will end up being on the smaller side.
Playing Thaddeus Young in the starting lineup is not normally in Philadelphia’s best interest. It is when Bynum’s out, though.
Taking Young from sixth man to starting power forward will hurt some of the team’s depth and rebounding ability. They’ll need to be sharp with their defensive rotations, and maybe even occasionally switch to a zone.
Young at power forward does have some unique advantages, however.
Most teams aren’t going to have a 4 that matches up with his athleticism and skill set. The Sixers will also be able to push the basketball with a little more success, especially if Young is the one getting the rebound.
Another advantage is that Spencer Hawes will get to go back to his more natural position at center. Hawes had the best season of his career at that position last year, and he won’t need to do much different if that's where he ends up being moved to.
If Philly has to go small, you can expect to see Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown getting the majority of the backup minutes at power forward and center. Arnett Moultrie will also get an opportunity to get some valuable playing time.
Playing most of the game with a small lineup can only last for so long. The Sixers will need to execute on offense and put a real emphasis on rebounding.
Bynum’s return might take longer than expected, but going with a small rotation gives the Sixers the best chance at having a good record for when he returns.
Long-Term Solution: Trade for Another Big-Name Forward
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These long-term solutions are for the rare chance of Bynum not producing or getting hurt. Again, this is only under the rare and unlikely chance that things don't go as planned.
If Bynum can’t find a way to find his way on to the floor, then seeing one of these players in a Sixers jersey isn’t out of the question.
Josh Smith’s name isn’t new to making trade rumor lists, so it’s definitely possible for Philly to take notice.
Ian Hanford, featured columnist for Bleacher Report, wrote an article on possible destinations for Smith if he were to be traded. Hanford talks about Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and what he might be interested in:
Philadelphia is a young team, with a few pieces that would attract Ferry. Rookie big man Arnett Moultrie has a ton of room to grow, and he is capable athleticism-wise. Thaddeus Young has always been a very interesting two-way player, and Evan Turner is a budding 2-guard. Those three in some capacity, plus any lesser players or picks, would make for an interesting package, and it would be worth it.
Smith would certainly fit in well with the athletic, up-tempo offense that Philly has come to play. Plus, his defensive skill would be a perfect match.
Jefferson is an interesting person to think about. He’s an absolute force in the paint who doesn’t get the kind of credit that he deserves.
Maybe he will in Philadelphia?
Depending on who they’d have to give up, Jefferson would be a nice player for the Sixers to look at.
This one might get a lot of criticism, but it shouldn't: LaMarcus Aldridge is a viable option for Philadelphia.
There shouldn’t be any debate about how talented Aldridge is, so we’ll look past that and go straight to why the Sixers have a shot at getting the All-Star power forward.
At 27 years old, Aldridge is just hitting the prime of his career. His timing puts the Portland Trail Blazers in a vulnerable spot.
He’s entering the third year of a five-year contract. Questions about his short- and long-term value have to be considered by Portland's management.
The Blazers are also weak at the shooting guard and small forward positions, two areas where Philadelphia thrives.
Packaging Nick Young, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Arnett Moultrie for Aldridge could end up doing the trick. A first-round pick might need to get thrown into the equation, but the fact remains: Philadelphia is strong where Portland is weak.
These are extreme long-term solutions, but so was getting Andrew Bynum. You really never know what could happen, and these three players would definitely fit in nicely.
Long-Term Solution: Wait a Year
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If the Andrew Bynum trade just isn’t going to work, then Philadelphia has a long, but easy, solution.
Sit back and finish the year out.
At the end of the year, Bynum becomes a free agent, and the Sixers are no longer tied to him.
There’s no reason for Philadelphia to try and make something out of nothing if it’s clear that Bynum won’t become what the Sixers hoped for. In the end, there’s no reason for it to get to this point, but that’s up to Bynum.
If he remains healthy and plays as well as he’s capable of, then the Sixers won’t have to worry about any of these solutions.