Quick Note: Though I wrote this before the final week of the regular season wrapped up, I just began writing here at SBNation. Therefore, please consider this more of a catch-up rather than a late piece.
When the Sixers dealt Iguodala to Denver in a four-team trade that brought Bynum to the City of Brotherly Love, more questions were raised than answered. No one doubted that the masses in Philadelphia, still longing for that euphoric feeling that slipped away during the dearth years following Iverson, would take him under their wings, with hopes that each one would use the other to lean on.
However, as the days turned to weeks, weeks turned into months, and soon (just a few days ago, as a matter of fact) it would come to fruition that those scarce years would continue, as Bynum was announced out for the remainder of the season.
At first glance, it appears the 76ers were had. However, some may argue they walked the fine line between taking a chance and making a dire mistake. They were clearly comfortable with the core of Turner, Holiday, and Young, so much that adding an injury-riddled superstar with only one year left on his current deal was enough to persuade the entire organization to pull the trigger. And let’s not kid ourselves. Once they amnestied Brand and allowed Lou Williams to walk, a change was undoubtedly on the horizon.
Little did Philly realize, though, that they would not only get a Greg Oden-like season from their new acquisition, but they would also be forced to watch Harkless and Vucevic prosper elsewhere. And therein lies the chance, and consequences, of hope. However, unbeknownst to a few current owners, the 76ers front office won’t be sitting at the head of that particular table for long.
After all, with Bynum’s deal officially off the books in mere weeks, a bidding war now devises behind numerous doors, like several news teams preparing for battle in an abandoned alley somewhere.
Let’s take a look at the next willing franchises prepared to depend on hope.
(Remember, rumor has it the 2013-14 cap will fall somewhere between $60 million and $61 million, meaning a team looking to ink Bynum to a max offer will have to have around $17 million freed up in the first year to avoid paying a hefty luxury tax. That is, unless your organization is run by Kupchak and Prokhorov, who wear "FUCK THE CAP" t-shirts everywhere.)
Significant Options: Teague ($3.4 million Qualifying Offer), Ivan Johnson ($1.2 million QO)
While negotiations with the Bucks for J-Smoove broke down just seconds before the trade deadline ended, the Hawks had other plans in mind. For instance, they wanted to move Smith, but not for pennies. Allowing him to walk at the end of the year was deemed as acceptable, if not more, than receiving practically nothing in return. And since the goal this offseason for Atlanta will most likely be to keep Horford at the four (where he continues to be the only player since the all-star break averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds), a perennial game-changing contract (even if said contract is a risk) might be the right move.
Take everything you read in the first few paragraphs and, for argument’s sake, forget it. I’m not claiming by any means that the Sixers pursuing Bynum in free agency is a lock. In fact, if I were forced to choose, I’m leaning heavily in the opposite direction. However, it can’t be ruled out.
Think about it for a second. If it was a calculated risk on their end, doesn’t it make sense that they might try it once more? Sure, it would be considerably more costly this time around, but if DiLeo is confident enough to say this 2012-13 76ers team could hold their own against the likes of Miami and…well, Miami again, with Bynum in the paint, then they would really have no choice but to try it. Plus, who else would win their offseason Bowling Charity Challenge?
Ok, the bad news first, Magic fans. That expiring $12 million deal looming over Turkoglu is about as bad as it sounds. Sure, it’s done at the end of the year, but it’s still $12 MILLION. And more importantly, it’s still Hedo-effing-Turkoglu. But cheer up. If you can somehow rid the books of that atrocious thing, $38.9 million in cap room, as well as positioning yourselves towards the front of the line for an additional franchise player awaits on the other side.
Luckily, the good news practically fell out of thin air. Who knew that Vucevic, Harris, and even Harkless would be THIS? And if that isn’t enough, take comfort in knowing that come 2014-15 (the Summer of Lebron), Harkless, Vucevic, Harris, Nicholson, and O’Quinn will only be making $9.4 million…total.
Significant Options: (takes a deep breath) Jefferson ($11 million Player Option), Biedrins ($9 million PO), Landry ($4 million PO), Rush ($4 million PO), Jack (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Let’s assume for one second that every Warriors fan hasn’t lit themselves on fire after being reminded about Biedrins contract. That $45.4 million you see listed at the top doesn’t include the four player options that will undoubtedly be picked up because (a) why would anyone in their right mind give Biedrins or Jefferson over $2 million, let alone $9 and $11 million, and (b) Rush has a legitimate argument to return and prove how impactful he could’ve been prior to injury.
With that out of the way, there’s a few different ways we can approach the Warriors cap, all of which involve numerous incentives and maneuvering.
Shedding Bogut’s Expiring $14 million, All PO’s Signed: $59.4 million
With Bogut, All PO’s Signed: $73.4 million
Without Bogut, Only Biedrins and Jefferson Sign: $65.4 million
Without Bogut, Without PO’s: $31.4 million
Even if Bogut is dealt, I’m not sure where the money would come from in order to strike up a deal with Bynum. Unfortunately, Golden State might have more than a few tough choices to make this offseason considering Jack will be a highly coveted commodity. Lucky for them, Curry, Thompson, and Barnes are only due $15 million total next year.
Significant Options: Speights ($4.5 million PO), Ellington ($3.1 million QO)
Imagine you’re Dan Gilbert. You’ve already endured the torrential hell of setting your franchise back a few years and knocking down prices of every Fathead associated with the number 23. Eventually, you lucked into a franchise player with the first overall pick, which in turn helped the Cavs begin their slow crawl back to normalcy. Finally, you now realize that if you play your cards correctly, Cleveland – that’s right, CLEVELAND – could be the epitome for the next Big Three.
Though Speights is iffy, let’s assume he settles to play out the year for $4.5 million. Even if both Casspi and Ellington sign their qualifying offers, your organization’s cap is still sitting just over $40 million. That leaves more than enough room to reel in one perennial all-star center.
Now, think ahead to the summer of 2014-15. The club options of Kyrie, Zeller, Thompson, and Waiters only total $17.9 million. Add Varejao’s $9.7 million (that may or may not still be lingering), along with Bynum’s potential $18 million, and the books now sit at $45.6 million. Did I mention a certain someone hits the market around that time? I did mention that, didn’t I?
Significant Options: Kirilenko ($10.2 million PO), Pekovic ($6 million QO)
Did you ever think the fate of the Timberwolves would come down to whether or not Pekovic, clearly a Gears of War character, received a max deal?
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the 5-man-lineup of Love-Rubio-Kirilenko-Pek-Williams has yet to play together, leaving the Wolves with no statistical information to turn to. In fact, only one combination of four out of the five has been on the court with each other at all (Rubio-Kirilenko-Pek-Williams, a 4-man-lineup that has played only 208 minutes together, scoring 94.3 points per 100 possessions and allowing 106.2).
However, since Love’s contract dispute leaves his future with the Timberwolves in jeopardy, I can’t help but wonder if it’s enough to force Minnesota to make a drastic move, whether that be aligning someone else with or without Pek.
Significant Options: Marion ($9 million Early Termination Offer), Mayo ($4.2 million PO), Collison ($3.3 million QO), Beaubois ($3.2 million QO)
That $41.3 million includes Matrix’ option that anyone and everyone knows he’ll pick up. Mayo, however, has about 1000 reasons not to sign his. Sure, he’s subpar on defense and a lukewarm rebounder for a guard, but he knows he’ll still receive $45 million out on the open market, even if it’s Dallas who brings him back.
Where Bynum fits in is the real key. The Mavs have practically tipped their hand at what they’ll do when Kaman expires this summer, benching him five minutes out of the gate in favor of Wright every night (minus the Nets game when Lopez suddenly turned into the Shawn Bradley-Monstar edition). Cuban is the type of guy who believes in high risk, high reward players though (a greedy Vince Carter, anyone?), and Bynum, following along the conscience stream of needs for this team, molds directly into that. Oh, and that whole overrated notion of having a serviceable point guard. (Yes, I’ve become excited numerous times when Mike James enters the game for vital minutes. That’s what this Mavs season has come to.)
Significant Options: Garcia ($6.4 million Club Option), Brooks ($2.5 million CO)
I won’t harp on it for too long seeing as the Rockets streak in my column appearances is teetering towards the Heat’s current one on the floor, but the real success behind Houston isn’t just the numerous analytical acquisitions made on a daily basis. It’s the players they’ve gotten to fill in around their superstar(s).
For instance, if the Mavs go out and sign Bynum, their two best players around him due to cap constraints would be Dirk and Vince. Not bad, but not exactly Magic, Kareem, and Worthy. The Rockets on the other hand have astonishingly made it capable to fit 12 different guys around whatever other franchise players they choose to go out and sign, three of which are Harden, Asik, and Lin wrapped up for a total of $24 million in 2013-14.
Significant Options: Ellis ($11 million ETO), Jennings ($4.3 million QO), Redick (UFA), Dunleavy (UFA)
Your guess is as good as mine. Bynum is in their range if the Bucks choose to go in that direction, but I would think making sure Jennings is once again wearing purple and green is higher on their priority list (even though he’s not going to be worth whatever lucrative number he receives). Assuming Ellis opts out like he’s claimed he’s going to do, only Sanders and Ilyasova are left from the 5-man-lineup of Ellis-Jennings-Dunleavy-Sanders-Ilyasova, Milwaukee’s highest rated lineup in offensive efficiency that has logged over 100 minutes.
Though they failed to successfully deal Gortat before the deadline, it remains as easy, if not easier, now that he has an expiring $7.72 million contract. And though Bynum might not be in their particular blueprint (Phoenix coveted Smith before the deadline), who’s to say they won’t make a run at both him AND Smith?
After all, when it comes down to it, all any team can do is hope.
Another user-created commentary provided by a Liberty Ballers reader.
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