Sixers Storylines: Trade deadline looms

Sixers Storylines: Trade deadline looms
February 17, 2013, 4:00 pm
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For as down as most folks feel about the 76ers’ chances this year, there is still plenty of season left for the team to make up some ground. The Bucks hold down the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race by four games over the Sixers and the Celtics have 5½ games on the Sixers for the No. 7 seed.

That’s the optimistic view.

The realistic side is that the Sixers have been very disappointing this season and aside from clinging to hope, the second half of the season doesn’t bode to be much better. There still is no real gauge on when Andrew Bynum will ever play, and Thad Young is still recovering from a hamstring strain.

Plus, the Sixers still have issues in the low post and with All-Star Jrue Holiday doing nearly all the heavy lifting with Young out, one has to wonder how much stamina the point guard has left. With the second half to begin with a practice on Monday evening, the Sixers’ future is as cloudy as ever.

Perhaps more focus can come to light this week with a few of the storylines we’re following:

Trade deadline looms
Though Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo maintains that the Sixers are focused on the long-term development of the team, sources indicate that the Sixers have been much more active in trade banter as of late.

With the trade deadline set for Thursday, reports are that the Sixers have “dangled” both Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes and were among the many teams interested in the Hawks’ Josh Smith.

However, a league source says the Sixers were just gauging the trade value of both players and more than likely will stand pat at the 3 p.m. deadline this Thursday. In other words, DiLeo isn’t just giving lip service when he says the Sixers want to see what the team looks like with Bynum.

Mondays with Andrew
Bynum said he planned on spending a couple of days at home in Los Angeles during the All-Star break and then was going to dive back into his workouts. So when the weekly update from the center comes on Monday, maybe we’ll have a better gauge of when Bynum plans on playing.

And make no mistake about it -- Bynum will play this year. He has to. With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, Bynum has to run up and down the court a few times in order to get a new deal for next year. Bad knees or not, Bynum is a rare commodity in the NBA and if he can prove he can play, he’ll get a sweet contract. Shoot, even if the Sixers decide to take a pass on Bynum there are reports of teams getting ready to line up for the big man. In fact, Houston is reported to be interested along with Dallas and Cleveland.

Cleveland could be the most interesting suitor for Bynum this summer considering it is reported to be the frontrunner to land former No. 1 overall pick, Greg Oden. Imagine a team with Oden and Bynum. Better yet, imagine the training staff on a team with Oden and Bynum.

They better know a lot about the knee.

Kobe and Bynum
An interesting story from the All-Star weekend in Houston came from the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding about Bynum and former teammate Kobe Bryant and how the pair used last year’s All-Star weekend in Orlando to form a deep friendship.

As Bryant told Ding:

“The All-Star break was really when our bond cemented itself,” Bryant said about Bynum. “Even though we were around so many of our other peers, it was just he and I. We were always around each other and we really didn't care what the other guys were doing.  
 
“It was really about us and being in constant communication: ‘What are you doing? Let's go out. Let's hang out. Let's grab some dinner.’ From that point on, we've always had this chemistry.”

Hunter out
To very little surprise, the NBA player representatives voted unanimously to fire union head Billy Hunter from his post of 17 years. Hunter vowed to fight the move, though controversy regarding nepotism and financial impropriety still swirls around his run with the union.

Nevertheless, as the new-look NBPA begins to take shape, three former Sixers’ are among the union’s new leadership. During Saturday’s meeting, Jerry Stackhouse, Andre Iguodala and Willie Green were voted into positions in the executive committee, along with Chris Paul, James Jones, Roger Mason Jr., Stephen Curry and holdovers Matt Bonner and Derrick Fisher.

According to reports, Stackhouse and LeBron James were the most forceful voices in Saturday’s meeting to fire Hunter.

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