Andrew Bynum

The 5 worst trades in Sixers history

The 5 worst trades in Sixers history

Traditionally, when you trade a star player in any sport, it’s hard to recoup star value in return.

Looking back on a few of the worst swaps for the Sixers, it’s hard to argue with that sentiment.

While a few modern deals have been bad — trading up to select Markelle Fultz, trading Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor for pennies on the dollar — those deals didn’t hurt the team’s current era as much as these impacted the franchise’s trajectory in the past.

Here are the five worst trades in Sixers history.

5. Chet Walker to the Bulls

Walker played one year as a Syracuse National before that franchise became the Sixers. He was a three-time All-Star and NBA champion in 1966-67 in Philadelphia. He was part of arguably one of the best starting fives ever that featured Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham and Hal Greer. 

Walker wound up having a Hall of Fame career himself but had his best statistical seasons in Chicago. After the Sixers traded him along with Shaler Halimon for Bob Kauffman and Jim Washington in 1969, Walker made four more All-Star teams. He averaged 20.6 points in 474 games with the Bulls.

Kauffman never played a game for the Sixers and was traded again for Bailey Howell. Howell played just one season for the Sixers, the final of his Hall of Fame career. Washington played 174 games for the Sixers, averaging 12.9 points and 9.4 rebounds a game.

4. Andrew Bynum to the Sixers

You likely don’t need too much of a refresher on this one. The Sixers acquired a 25-year-old All-Star center in Bynum, who, despite a knee injury, was just entering his prime. The price for that center in 2012? Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and two first-round picks. The Sixers also acquired Jason Richardson for salary purposes.

The fact that Bynum didn’t play a game for the Sixers after such a bizarre saga that included a bowling injury puts the trade up here. Richardson was at the tail end of his career but was a solid mentor during the early stages of the Process. 

Iguodala went on to become a three-time NBA champ and win a Finals MVP with the Warriors. Vucevic became an All-Star big for the Magic. Harkless has become a solid NBA role player. Luckily for the Sixers, Sam Hinkie was able to swindle those first-rounders back from the Magic in 2014.

3. Charles Barkley to the Suns

We also likely don’t have to jog your memory too much on this one. Barkley, who was drafted fifth overall in 1984, joined a Sixers team loaded with Hall of Famers Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks. As those players all moved on, it became Barkley’s team. He was a six-time All-Star who’d become disgruntled by the organization’s lack of success.

In 1992, Barkley was traded to Phoenix for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry. In his first season with the Suns, Barkley was the NBA’s MVP and took his team to the Finals, where they lost to the Michael Jordan-led Bulls. Barkley went on to make five more All-Star teams before retiring in 2000.

Hornacek was solid but lasted just 132 games with the Sixers before being traded to the Jazz. Lang lasted just 72 games. Perry was here the longest of the three (211 games) but never made much of a mark. This trade ushered in a bad era of Sixers basketball. After making the playoffs with Barkley in 1990-91, they wouldn’t get back until 1998-99.

2. Wilt Chamberlain to the Lakers

The Sixers were only a season removed from winning a championship in 1967 and were coming off a 62-win season in 1967-68. As previously mentioned, they boasted one of the better starting units in NBA history. 

Trading a star player is one thing. Trading one of the greatest players ever is another. There are several different indications for why, but Chamberlain was dealt to the Lakers in 1968 for Darrall Imhoff, Jerry Chambers and Archie Clark. 

Chamberlain went on to help L.A win a title in 1972, its first since 1950. He also made four more All-Star teams and retired as a Laker in 1973. Imhoff (161 games) and Chambers (zero games) didn’t make an impact here. Clark had a strong run, averaging 18.2 points a game in parts of four seasons here, but never made the impact of Chamberlain.

1. Moses Malone to the Bullets

Of all the trades on this list, this one may be the hardest to explain. Malone had been the missing piece in helping Dr. J get over the hump in 1982-83. His numbers as a Sixer were outstanding (23.9 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game) and it was the best era of Sixers basketball during his four seasons here.

But in 1986, the Sixers traded the 30-year-old Malone along with Terry Catledge and two first-round picks to the Bullets for Cliff Robinson and Jeff Ruland. The move was not received well by the players — especially by a young Barkley — and Malone made three more All-Star appearances. 

Robinson was a pretty good player here, but not an All-Star. Ruland, who already had foot issues during the previous two seasons in Washington, played just five games with the Sixers before retiring. He made a brief comeback during the 1991-92 season but played just 13 games. This began what Sixers fans call "The Curse of Moses Malone."

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Andre Iguodala's moment, the Andrew Bynum trade and the brink of the Process

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AP Images

Andre Iguodala's moment, the Andrew Bynum trade and the brink of the Process

On May 10, 2012, Andre Iguodala hopped onto the scorer’s table at Wells Fargo Center, celebrating the Sixers’ dramatic Game 6 win in the first round over the Bulls, the franchise’s first playoff series victory since 2003. 

Three months later, he was a Denver Nugget.

Game 6, which will re-air Wednesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia, is memorable on its own, a low-scoring thriller. The Sixers’ season ended with a Game 7 loss in Boston, the conclusion of a series later featured in Uncut Gems. Adam Sandler’s character, a desperate jeweler/gambler named Howard Ratner, encourages Kevin Garnett to “step on Elton Brand’s f---ing neck.” 

There aren’t yet any movies that we know of about the trade that sent Iguodala to the Nuggets and brought Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, but it’s a deal that invites re-examination. In the four-team, 12-player trade, the Sixers received Bynum and Jason Richardson, and they gave up Iguodala, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a protected first-round pick.

The clearest takeaway from the trade is that the impact was, on the surface, borderline disastrous. Bynum never played a game with the Sixers because of injuries, including a bowling-induced setback. Richardson only played in 52 games. Harkless, now in his eighth season, is a solid NBA player. Vucevic was an All-Star last season with the Magic and has averaged 17 points and 10.7 rebounds since leaving the Sixers. Iguodala won three championships with the Warriors and earned a Finals MVP award. 

The trade’s failure also expedited the beginning of “The Process.” With Bynum out, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen started at center. Kwame Brown even started 11 games in his final NBA season. The team finished 34-48 and missed the playoffs, and Doug Collins resigned as head coach. Sam Hinkie took over in May, trading Jrue Holiday on draft night in exchange for Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans’ 2014 first-round pick. He hired Brett Brown in August. 

If the Sixers had never traded for Bynum, they likely would have been a playoff team in the 2012-13 season, even after Lou Williams — their leading scorer in 2011-12 — signed with the Hawks. Iguodala was coming off an All-Star year, while a rookie Harkless would presumably have had a good shot at taking minutes from players like Dorell Wright and Nick Young. Collins removed Vucevic from his rotation in the playoffs the year prior, but it seems very possible his opinion of the big man would have shifted.

“How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic and have nothing in returning playing?,” Collins asked after a February loss to Orlando. “That’s tough to overcome, right? That’s just the facts. … Nik Vucevic had 19 rebounds tonight. Spencer had one. I think Lavoy had two.”

Allen had four rebounds that night, but that’s obviously besides the point. 

Collins would have been coaching a team with hopes of making a run. Though the Sixers had been fortunate in that first-round series against Chicago the year before, with the Bulls suffering injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, their aspirations wouldn’t have been entirely delusional. Any notion of winning the Eastern Conference or pushing for an NBA title would have been absurd — the Sixers weren’t going to win a series against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat. But, at a bare minimum, they would have been a step or two above mediocre. They could’ve easily convinced themselves it wasn’t necessary to do anything drastic, that they were on the right track.

The team traded for Bynum instead, and Hinkie came in unconcerned with immediate, conventional respectability. He accumulated assets, played the odds and gave himself chances to select players like Joel Embiid. His approach turned off many fans who didn’t enjoy watching fringe NBA players set historic losing streaks. 

Without the Bynum trade, the Sixers probably never would have considered that path, and they likely would have stayed the course on a different, more traditional process built around Igoudala, Holiday and Vucevic. It would've been so much easier to justify hovering a couple of rungs below title contention, remembering that night Iguodala leaped on the table and hoping it wasn't a fluke. 



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Former face of Sixers franchise Andrew Bynum looking to revive his career

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@ChrisJHoops

Former face of Sixers franchise Andrew Bynum looking to revive his career

I have no idea what Andrew Bynum has been up to over the past few years. I'd guess he has made a trip or two to the King of Prussia Mall and maybe even hit up his local bowling alley. But now we know the former face of the Sixers' franchise — for like 30 seconds! — has actually been spending time in a gym lately doing something he never did in a regular-season game for the 76ers.

Bynum has been playing basketball. The former NBA lottery pick and total bust in Philadelphia is attempting to make a comeback at the age of 30, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. He last played in the NBA in 2014 for the Indiana Pacers after quickly flaming out with the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier that season.

The Sixers infamously waged their future on Bynum in a trade that saw them part with Andre Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, Nik Vucevic and a first-round pick that Sam Hinkie would later work to get back. Bynum's career in Philly peaked with a fun press conference at the National Constitution Center near Independence Hall. It was the day he was introduced here.

He would never appear in a regular-season game for the franchise.

His tenure in Philadelphia is perhaps best remembered for his unique hairstyles and bowling antics.

Perhaps the saving grace of the Bynum trade could be it helping contribute to ownership placing Hinkie in charge of basketball operations. 

Anyway, footage of Bynum working out has hit the internet. It's not as exciting as the empty-gym footage we've come to know and love from the likes of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz or Ben Simmons.

You can watch the big man run the floor below.


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