[Before the 21012-13 NBA season began, before Sactown Royalty became overrun with covering negotiations, I previewed all 30 NBA teams and how I thought their season would go. But as much fun as it is to preview a season, it's also fun to look back and see what actually happened. And since Kings fans were pretty distracted by off-court events, these will also serve as a reintroduction to what we missed while we watched committee meetings.]
This season will be defined by Bynum. It will be defined by his time on the court and his time in a suit on the sidelines. It will be defined by how he produces when he plays. And it will be defined by what the 76ers organization does with Bynum long term. If Bynum works out, Philly will be the team nobody wants to face in the first round of the playoffs. If Bynum is a bust this season, the trade will be unfairly doubted and torn to shreds.
Well, I kind of nailed that part of the preview. But after that I went on to predict that Andrew Bynum would eventually play enough to keep the 76ers in the playoffs. As we all know, the Bynum circus never stopped and Bynum never played. And it truly was the story of the season for the Sixers. But then again it was destined to be this way. If Bynum had played most of the season, he still would've been the story. Having not played a minute, he's the story. And he'll continue to be the big story as we head into this offseason. Bynum enters free agency as an even bigger mystery than before. Will he ever be healthy? Will he be able to come back at the same level as when he played for the Lakers? What kind of contract is Bynum worth? The Sixers are in a difficult position.
I'll be surprised if a team throws a max contract a Bynum this offseason, but I won't be the least bit surprised if he gets near max money. I could definitely see someone like Mark Cuban giving Bynum a two year offer. Maybe the second year will even be a player option. I don't know, but itt will be interesting to see where the market places his value.
And now in this review, as it was during the season, the team on the floor is an afterthought to Bynum. The biggest on-court development for the Sixers was the continued growth of Jrue Holiday. I've liked Holiday for a while, but it seems like he's struggled to be consistent. In my preview I noted that he was coming off a career-worst season for assists. But he's 22 years old, just put together the best season of his career, and was named to his first All-Star appearance. He set career-highs for points and assists both on a per game and a per minute basis. No matter what happens with Bynum, Holiday is the silver lining. Either the Sixers will pair a 22-year-old All Star point guard with Bynum, or the Sixers will be in rebuilding mode with a 22-year-old All Star point guard as their centerpiece. Either way, the Sixers will be better off than quite a few rebuilding teams.
In addition to roster moves, the offseason will see a coaching search as Doug Collins has been shown the door. The franchise's coaching choice could tell us a lot about the front office's future plans for the roster. Or they could hire an ambiguous retread that tells us nothing. Sadly, that seems like the more Sixers way to handle this.
While the current situation is far from what anyone in Philadelphia expected, there are two very different but two very clear directions that Philadelphia can go from here. No matter which way they go they'll be second guessed. The trade to acquire Bynum will be second guessed. But I still contend it was a smart gamble. It could still pay off. And if it doesn't, I think Philly will still find itself in a preferable position over standing pat with the team they had in place before the trade.