Philadelphia 76ers fans like myself are beginning to get carried away over landing Andrew Bynum in the Dwight Howard trade. Now that the Sixers have a proven star from the Los Angeles Lakers, who can be the face of a franchise that desperately needs a face, great things seem possible now. However, the SIxers did just get rid of someone who never lived up to that promise himself after leaving Los Angeles.
The Sixers have more room to take on the final year of Bynum's contract because they finally got Elton Brand off the books weeks earlier. He was the last major star that Philadelphia got from a Los Angeles team - and in that case, the Sixers lived to regret it ever since.
Brand took the Los Angeles Clippers to a rare playoff run in 2006 and regularly averaged around 20 points a game. Although Brand missed much of the 2007-08 season, it looked like the Sixers had secured their future by signing him to a five-year deal months later. Yet he only lasted four years in Philadelphia, which were plagued with injuries and a general decline when he was healthy.
By the end, the Sixers were desperate to dump him and get room in the salary cap for a new savior. Now it appears that Bynum will be that savior, yet he has a lot of question marks as well. Although Philadelphia has acquired Bynum after the best season of his career, this is a player who has his own history of injuries and who has acted out in the past.
If Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant couldn't keep him under control on a championship team, can Doug Collins do it on a mediocre one? And unlike Brand, Bynum is only guaranteed to play with the Sixers next season, before he tests free agency. If the Sixers give him a gigantic contract to keep him beyond 2013, they had better be sure Bynum is worth the risk - or else they will be desperate to get him off the books sometime in 2017 or 2018.
Brand couldn't take the Sixers to the next level and was a symbol for how they were stuck in traction instead. Philadelphia couldn't afford to make many big moves in the last few years - and when it did with Brand, it blew up in its face. He became a cautionary tale, yet if there was ever a time for that tale to be retold, this would be it.
Is Bynum just another would be superstar who will lose his mojo, and his health, once he goes from Los Angeles to Philadelphia? Hopefully the Sixers will find out quickly next season, before they give Bynum a Brand-like contract that could cripple them if this doesn't work out too.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
Other stories from this contributor