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NBA PM: Andrew Bynum Committing To 76ers?
Posted By Bill Ingram On August 15, 2012 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Andrew Bynum, a seven-year veteran at 24 years of age, has never been what you would call an animated person. He tends to hover around his locker, hoping his illustrious teammates will take all of the media attention long enough for him to make a quick exit through the back door.
Meanwhile, what Bynum has really wanted was to be the star of his own team, for the ball to run through him, and to be the one responsible for the success of his team. That wasn’t happening with the Lakers, who had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol ahead of Bynum in the pecking order, so the recent trade that sent Dwight Howard to L.A. and Bynum to Philly gave the seven-footer exactly the opportunity he’s been hoping for.
“I’m looking forward to it because it’s the next step in my career, my progression as a basketball player,” Bynum said in his official press conference earlier today. “For a little while (the Lakers) used me as the main option. In the Denver series I was getting accustomed to getting triple-teamed and things like that. I’ve got some experience at it, and it’s going to be a lot more exciting and a lot more fun to play knowing that everything is going to be run through me. I’ve got some great teammates out there and we’re a deep team. Looking at the roster I think sky’s the limit for us.”
Prior to the Bynum trade the Sixers looked like a team that had taken a significant step backwards. Now they look like a team that could challenge for home court advantage in the brutally tough upper ranks of the Eastern Conference. As a player who has been to the NBA Finals and come out with the ultimate prize twice, Bynum cautions that a lot of work has to be put in to reach that goal.
“Well, to get (to a championship level) it takes a lot of dedication and preparation,” Bynum said. “You need everyone on the team to be in gear with the program, especially the one Coach Collins is going to lay out for us. Outside of that it’s just work, every single day, day in and day out. I do bring that experience with me to this team and I’m looking forward to getting in the locker room and sharing that with the rest of the fellas.”
Fans were allowed to take part in the press conference for Bynum and new teammate Jason Richardson, and they gave their new heroes a welcome worthy of Philly sports heroes like Julius Erving and even the fictitious Rocky Balboa.
“It makes me super-excited,” said Bynum of the enthusiastic welcome. “They’re definitely passionate fans. I’m very passionate about my game. I’m going to play with a high level of intensity and leave it out there. Hopefully, they can match my energy and keep me going. From the looks of it, they came out in a big way to support us; it’s amazing. I’ve actually never seen anything like this, to be honest, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s going to be like in a sold out arena.”
Bynum is still weeks away from playing his first game as a Sixers, but he already feels like he’s come home.
“I just thought I was coming home, man,” Bynum said of the trade. “I was super-excited. I thought it was time for a change, to be honest. I’m here now and I’m loving the city. I’ve been here for two days and everyone has been great to me. Had the chance to go to some nice restaurants and things like that, it’s been great.”
The excitement was palpable and the fanfare was impressive. Bynum is now a member of the 76ers, and he’s officially the franchise player he has longed to be. Now it’s up to him to deliver, and he certainly seems to be up for the challenge.
“I’m confident,” said Bynum. “I’m ready to do it. I’ve always been compared to past great centers. Obviously, I was compared to Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and Shaquille [O'Neal] coming from Laker land. I like the fact that I’m the caliber of player to be compared. I’m my own player and I’m going to succeed and work as hard as I can to exceed everyone’s expectations. There is pressure, but pressure makes diamonds.”
The big question now, before we even get to the start of a new season, is whether or not Bynum will commit to the Sixers long-term when the time comes between now and next summer. Nothing is guaranteed at this point, and it makes sense for Bynum to wait until next summer to negotiate a new deal, but he’s already thinking about staying.
“To be honest, my first experience here has been so great, I’m really leaning towards making this my home,” Bynum said. “I’m not the kind of guy who wants to be all around, have a lot of teams under my belt. I don’t know, man. That’s really the answer man, I’m really leaning towards staying.”
However the situation plays out, Bynum can’t imagine handling his future as publicly and as controversially as Howard has handled his.
“Obviously, Howard felt the way he did and things are going to happen but for me, I don’t want to be in that same situation,” Bynum said. “I think there was a lot of negativity around that and I like to stay positive, for the most part.”
So far, so good. The fan base in Philly couldn’t be more excited, and it’s going to be hard to avoid picking the Sixers as one of the most-improved teams in the NBA next season. If all goes according to plan, the Sixers may have their franchise cornerstone for years to come, and the sky is the limit for Bynum and his new teammates.
NBA Draft Prospect: Ben Simmons
Promising Australian prospect Ben Simmons took part in adidas Nations last week, and HOOPSWORLD caught up with him to talk about eventually making the move to the United States. He talks about being on one of the best teams in the Nations tournament, what he needs to work on before he’s ready for the NCAA, and what the immediate future holds.
Officially Rebuilding Time For Houston Rockets?
Once upon a time the Houston Rockets looked like a team ready to contend. Just a few short years ago, a Rockets team comprised of Yao Ming, Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady went 53-29 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. There they met the Los Angeles Lakers, and looked ready to beat them, too, but Yao Ming went down with a foot injury and took his team’s hopes of contention down with him.
That was the 2008-09 NBA season, and the Rockets have been struggling to find direction ever since.
The truth is, the team former general manager Carroll Dawson and current GM Daryl Morey built around Yao was a formidable one, so formidable that they have challenged for a playoff spot every season even without Yao, who has since retired. They were, in effect, caught in the NBA’s Twilight Zone, too good to win the lottery, but too bad to make the playoffs. All they needed was that one front court piece to fill the void left by Yao’s departure, but their efforts to land key targets like Marcin Gortat, Chris Bosh, Nene, Pau Gasol, and now Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum all fell through.
Having missed out on every key targeted free agent and the big names in the trade market, the Rockets are now embarking on the only other choice when it comes to rebuilding. They are going to put their young players out on the court and let them play them into the lottery.
“We’re very comfortable with where we are set up in terms of we feel very good about our young players,” Morey said in an interview with KBME in Houston. “Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lamb, (Patrick) Patterson, (Marcus) Morris, (Terrence) Jones, Royce White, (Donatas) Motejunas and I’m going to miss a few but every move we did, we made to either set ourselves up for a move like this or to have ourselves in a good situation even if it didn’t happen.”
The Rockets were thought to be frontrunners in the Howard sweepstakes due to the large number of promising young players and first round draft picks they had amassed, but Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan said the Rockets’ offer sheets to Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin made it difficult to make a deal.
“I haven’t seen Rob’s comments,” said Morey. “I think those deals were done for a while now, so that would surprise me, but really the only opinion that matters is Rob’s. If he felt like that made it difficult then it was difficult, right? At the end of the day he has the player that he was trading that everyone wanted and there are a whole host of things that either made it positive or more difficult for them and how they value things. I really think in these big trades it often comes down to how people value individual players in the deal. Last year, when we did the big trade (for Pau Gasol, which the NBA voided), we found a partner in the Hornets and they were a team that obviously really liked the players they were getting in that deal. In this case, Orlando really liked the players they were getting in that deal. That’s all that matters and I think Rob Hennigan is an unbelievable executive and going to be in the league for a very long time. He made the best deal for Orlando and that is all there is to it.”
All of that said, Morey does feel the Rockets got very close to landing Dwight.
“I do feel like it was close but they did their diligence and they were searching for something they thought they liked even more and they liked this trade better than anything we could offer,” Morey said. “I promise you Rob knows what he’s doing and he thought this was best for Orlando and I think people will see over time that he’s a very good executive.”
Players agents have been in the news a little more than usual this summer, with NBA Commissioner David Stern even calling out super-agent Dan Fegan for leaking information around the Dwight Howard scenarios. Morey says he feels the agents are just doing what they’ve been hired to do.
“I think they’re appropriately involved,” Morey said. “It’s their job to look out for the best interest of their clients, and I think the large majority of them do that and they do it well, so I don’t have any issue with agents being involved. I think they’re doing what their clients are asking them to do, which is try to get them to the best situation possible for them and I have no issue with that. It’s our job to make the situation here be attractive and I think it is.”
The Rockets are never finished dealing, of course, and Morey admits the team will continue to be diligent in seeking out additional upgrades between now and the start of the 2012-13 season.
“I think there’s a couple of free agents that we’re talking to, and I don’t know if anything will work out, but we’re very comfortable with what we have and rolling into training camp with that,” Morey said. “We think it will be a team that can fight for a playoff spot but we’re always aggressive to try to do more and I think people know that. If something comes along we will do it but really the reason why we’re comfortable with where we are at is if you look from one to 15, up and down the roster, it’s either a player who has got upside, who gives us flexibility to have cap room or we have the ability to, with the draft picks we picked up from Toronto and Dallas and those teams, the ability to trade for something. But we’re going to be patient and it takes two to tango. It’s gotta be where what we have is a fit with other teams.”
Whether or not the Rockets can compete for a playoff spot in a Western Conference that has improved almost from top to bottom. Worst-case, Houston lands a top lottery pick and finally gets the franchise player they have been missing since injuries claimed Yao. Four of the projected top six picks in next summer’s NBA draft are centers, and that’s exactly what the Rockets need going forward.
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