A Look Behind the Scenes of the 76ers' Free Agency Meeting with Andrew Bynum

A Look Behind the Scenes of the 76ers' Free Agency Meeting with Andrew Bynum

With Dwight Howard and Josh Smith officially off the market, and Chris Paul long since committed to re-upping with the Clippers, the NBA's off-season attention turns to our very own Andrew Bynum, the ultimate wildcard in this year's free agency. Yahoo reports that Bynum has already been offered a two-year, $24 million offer from Cleveland (with the second year a team option), and that Bynum will meet with the Mavericks and Hawks before week's end, in a kind of miniature version of the drama that preceded Howard finally signing with the Houston Rockets last Friday.

Of course, the week wasn't going to transpire without the 76ers, the team that ostensibly employed Bynum last season, having their say in the matter. Their meeting with Bynum took place early this morning--possibly late last night by Andrew's schedule--in a closed-door affair that left most media members in the dark. However, ESPN Philadelphia has the report of what went down in the Sixers' free-agency pitch to their All-Star center:

The meeting started with Bynum and three members of his entourage arriving 25 minutes late, claiming to have gotten confused by the number of similar-looking parking lots in the South Philadelphia Sports Complex area. Bynum wore a salmon-colored Polo t-shirt and sandals with socks, as well as a pair of aviator sunglasses, which he politely declined to take off during the meeting.

First to talk at the meeting was Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, who spoke to Bynum about the importance of taking the long view of things, and not to expect any kind of quick fixes with the team and their roster as currently constituted. He explained to the center that the team would probably not be ready to compete for a championship for another three to four years minimum, and that in the meantime, there would be a lot of losing. Bynum asked if that meant the team was hoping to sign him to a contract that would have him still on the roster at the point of the Sixers again being competitive. Hinkie responded by scolding him for "trying to rush the process."

Next up were a number of special guests: Jeff Ruland, Chris Webber and Elton Brand, who preached to the center about Philadelphia 76ers history, and the team's proud lineage of injured, past-their-prime big men. Ruland spoke fondly of seasons spent on the sideline at the Spectrum, laughing about his impression of Charles Barkley ordering a Breakfast Sampler at IHOP with teammate Scott Brooks. Webber recalled skipping Fan Appreciation Night with Allen Iverson at the Wachovia Center ("We heard about this party AI's cousin was throwing at Drexel that night--SO many drunk college chicks") in his last home game for the Sixers. Brand focused mostly on the subtle pleasures of getting amnestied, raving about how "they actually pay you go play for another team--sometimes one that's actually good!"

Then came the pleas from Bynum's Sixers teammates. First came Nick Young, who gave an emotional, surprisingly coherent-sounding remembrance of his and Bynum's time as teammates, going off-road biking and making late-night trips to the Franklin Institute. Young even pulled up some pictures on his phone of he and Bynum posing with various different hairstyles and goofy-looking hats, including a black-and-white one of the two in sombreros and cartoonish mustaches, the memory of which made the pair crack up in hysterics. Bynum was clearly touched by the display, though he also seemed a bit surprised, claiming that he didn't even know Young had been re-signed by the team. Young looked upset and confused at this, and started to say something to Sam Hinkie, before Hinkie quickly thanked him for his time and shuttled him out of the room.

After Young came Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, who spoke to Bynum of the bright future they envisioned for the 76ers. The words "dynasty," "big three" and "final piece" were mentioned, with Evan pulling up his 2012-13 Game Log on Basketball-Reference to show Bynum the stat lines from his one month of above-average play from the previous season, and Hawes citing that time Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski predicted pre-season that he would win Most Improved Player for the year. The two also reminded Bynum of the benefits of living in the Philadelphia market, explaining that it took them a good two seasons to come up with their ideal hoagie-and-sides orders at Wawa, but now they couldn't imagine eating at any other convenience store. Before leaving, Turner and Hawes made Bynum promise that he would finally follow them on Twitter, though it remains unclear if Bynum even has a Twitter account.

Finally, the Sixers' new head coach made his appearance. He gave an incredibly rousing, inspirational speech about the value of teamwork and the importance of building character, concluding by walking up to Bynum's seat and saying "Now I can't be the one who walks you through that door. All I can do is tell you that once you get to the other side, and look into my eyes, and the eyes of those 11 boys who'll be standing there with you, you will know without a doubt, deep down in your heart, that you did the right thing." The room erupted into applause, including a stunned-looking Bynum. Once he left the room, Bynum asked of his entourage if they had any clue who the coach was. None seemed to, nor did any of the media members or Sixers officials in the room, though a couple discussed the coach's striking resemblance to actor Kyle Chandler.

After the meeting, Sixers president Josh Harris said that he thought the meeting "went well," and that he was feeling "very positive" about the team's chances of retaining their All-Star big man.

No official word yet about the Sixers' offer to Bynum, or his response to their offer. Stay turned for further details.

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).