When the Philadelphia 76ers acquired Andrew Bynum this summer, it was unclear whether he would be willing to commit to the franchise long term.
While it wasn't clear that the Sixers would emerge as the front runners for Bynum's services in the long run, the tables quickly turned.
In what can be called an endearing first date with the Philadelphia media and fans, Bynum made his intentions quite clear, according to Dan Gelston of the Associated Press, noting, ''My first experiences here have been so great,'' Bynum said, ''I'm really leaning toward making this my home."
The reasons for Bynum's happiness appear crystal clear. The guy is going to be treated like an absolute prince in the city, evident through the massive welcome party he was greeted with at his introductory press conference.
Aside from assuming the role of a basketball savior, Bynum will be the centerpiece of an offense that has been constructed to play to his strengths. In Philly you've got a young point guard who's brimming with confidence now that he's got a dominant center to play off of, a host of wing players and a potential sidekick in the making in Evan Turner.
Now that Dwight Howard is soaking in all of the purple and gold that wasn't so kind to Bynum, there's the real possibility that Bynum will emerge as the conference's most dominant center. In one of the country's largest media markets, Bynum sees a chance to mold his legacy in a way he never thought was possible.
All of this would feel like enough to make one guy happy, but we've omitted the primary factor that drives all decisions in today's NBA. Bynum is entering the final year of his current contract, and will absorb a max contract from someone in the summer of 2013. Will that team be the Sixers? The answer appears to be pointing towards the affirmative.
As Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk points out, the new collective bargaining agreement is tailored in such a way that Bynum will be able to rake in extra dollars from the Sixers that no other team will be able to offer:
As of Feb. 10 (six months after they traded for him) Bynum could sign a max extension, which is three years at just shy of $60 million. However, thanks to the quirks of the new CBA, if Bynum becomes a free agent in July (just five months later) he can re-sign with the Sixers for five years, a little over $100 million. Wait five months, get $40 million more guaranteed. Not much of a decision there. (Bynum could leave as a free agent at that point, but other teams can only offer four years, closer to $80 million. And Bynum is motivated by money.)
It's pessimistic to say that Bynum would depart were the Sixers not able to offer more money than any other team, but it's likely the truth. All NBA players are looking to capitalize on their peak market value, and Bynum, who will be 25 years old entering the prime of his career, will do just that.
Barring some unforeseen circumstances, Bynum will likely ink the five-year, $100 million extension he craves, and all will be right with the basketball universe in Philadelphia. However, what will really decide the future of the franchise are the moves that the front office will need to make once Bynum is in tow long term.
The real test for Bynum will be withstanding the barrage of attention he's going to receive on the court, and tailoring his game to Doug Collins' revised system. Collins has vowed to play through the post, which will undoubtedly make Bynum a happy camper, but the pressure that accompanies his new role is going to be tough to handle at times.
Collins also has a reputation as a bit of a nitpicker, and for a player whose maturity was questioned in Los Angeles, Bynum may find himself frustrated with how Collins operates.
There are more than a few reasons as to why Bynum could grow unhappy in Philadelphia, but in the end, there are more positives than negatives that accompany a long stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
Monetary incentives will ultimately drive Bynum to make Philadelphia his home, and however disastrous his debut season in Philadelphia could end up being, it likely won't curb him from committing to the franchise long term.