The Philadelphia 76ers had a big welcome for Andrew Bynum on Aug. 15. Sixers fans like myself rejoiced as Bynum officially arrived at his new home, with high expectations that he will put Philadelphia back on the map. In fact, with the "rock star" welcome, the hundreds of Sixers fans cheering at his press conference and the celebratory billboards, it is already easy to forget that Andre Iguodala left to make it happen.
Fittingly, Iguodala received a much quieter, less hyped welcome to his new city a day after Bynum's big arrival. While Bynum is entrusted with making the Sixers a contender almost by himself, Iguodala is now just one of the pieces for the Denver Nuggets. Yet like Bynum, Iguodala expressed confidence in his Aug. 16 introduction that he would stay with his new team for the long term.
Both Bynum and Iguodala had one year left on their contracts and can still hit free agency next summer. As such, the Sixers still have to worry that their new savior won't stick around for long. It will be tricky to resign Bynum, convince him that they can be a contender for the long term with him - and hope he is actually worth the risk.
Iguodala will be a little cheaper for the Nuggets to keep around, depending on if they still want him after 2012-13. However, the Sixers were more eager to get rid of him because he wasn't a No. 1 guy, and because he was the best trade bait they had for Bynum. Yet this time around, Iguodala doesn't have to be the big piece for the Nuggets - although they haven't had one since Carmelo Anthony forced his way to New York.
While Iguodala wasn't appreciated in Philadelphia for being more of a supporting player than a star, he may have better luck in Denver. In fact, he talked about possibly ending his career with the Nuggets, according to the Denver Post, which is a bit premature to speculate on. But like Bynum is going through with the Sixers, Iguodala is in the honeymoon phase with the Nuggets, only on a much smaller scale.
Iguodala was only the third biggest part of the four-team trade that brought Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakes and Bynum to the Sixers. Given how his career has gone, it makes sense that he would turn out to be the third option in this deal, in spite of his accomplishments. And it makes sense that there'd be much less hype and pomp around his introduction to Denver, compared to Bynum's debut in Philadelphia 24 hours earlier.
Yet will Iguodala find more success and security with the Nuggets than Bynum will as the designated savior for the Sixers? Fittingly, their quests will start against each other when Denver visits Philadelphia in the Oct. 31 season opener - and then stay linked for at least the next year after that.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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