Posted by: Jeff McMenamin
03/28/13 5:53 pm EST

Take a minute and think about these questions for a second:

Did the Philadelphia 76ers ownership just pull off the greatest tanking scheme in NBA history? Will their current horrible reputation be wiped away into them being regarded in the highest light for the Andrew Bynum blockbuster trade?

If I were to tell you that they’ve been pulling the media and fans’ legs all along for the good of the organization, would you believe me?

Putting your emotions aside (and believe me I’m right there with you) the answer to all three of these questions could conceivably be yes. The story of marketing ploys and genius cover ups begins after the jump…

 In 2005, a documentary was released by director Alex Gibney called, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.”

Here’s the trailer for anyone who hasn’t seen it (I highly recommend it):

The documentary studies the company Enron, who secretly and ingeniously pulled off one of the biggest business scandals in American History. The gist of the company Enron is that it was a company based on mark-to-model accounting. This means they’d report potential profits into their earnings every year without actually following up on the projects which the earnings were based on.

On the surface the company looked like a highly stable, successful and growing corporation, but underneath they had nothing to show for themselves but lies and deception. Most of the projects they signed off on fizzled, but yet their stock price kept rising with each passing year. In 16 years the company went from $10 billion in assets to $65 billion in assets, but it only took 24 days to go bankrupt.

How does this relate to the Sixers do you ask? While all of the fans have been too busy focusing on what’s being said to them on the surface, what’s been going on underneath the red, white and blue could be one of the most ingenious tanking schemes the NBA has ever seen.

It all started when the team signed Nick Young to a one-year, $6 million dollar deal, amnestied the rest of Elton Brand’s $18.2 million in salary and let Lou Williams walk in July.

The ownership then handed out a slew of one-year deals to Dorell Wright, Royal Ivey, Damien Wilkins, Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Pargo.

When they traded away Andre Iguodala and his $16 million in salary, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and a conditional 2015 first-round pick for Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, they will still come out the clear winners in a trade that many seem to think they have severely lost at this point in time.

Regardless of what the Sixers and media have told you, the ownership knew they had received damaged goods in Bynum when they made the trade back in August, but were hopeful he’d be able to take the court this season. The ownership “claims” that Bynum’s knees had checked out with four different doctors, but in reality they knew there was about a 10 percent chance for his return this season and didn’t want to shock/scare the fans into thinking that the trade they made was unwarranted and stupid.

They got the fans even more excited by holding a public press conference for Bynum at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center where Bynum explained he wanted to stay in Philadelphia for the long-term. Everyone was on board and excited, including analysts who were picking the 76ers to be a top five team in the East and the ownership was on top of the world.

They even fooled Jrue Holiday, who could be receiving close to $16 million a year with another team had he not signed a four-year, $41 million contract extension with the Sixers after the first game of the season in November. Holiday will make close to $11 million a year over the next four seasons.

The thing about lying however, is that eventually it will catch up to you and severely hurt your reputation. When the ownership realistically knew that Bynum had a slim chance to play this season in October, they continued to string along the fans with the idea he would.

Adam Aron even explained that they had known of a bone bruise in Bynum’s knee since September in a recent interview with WIP. Apparently on separate unspecified dates, Bynum sustained injuries to his knees and received treatment for it. In an individual workout in Los Angeles, a month before joining the Sixers for preseason camp, Bynum hurt his right knee on an up-and-under move.

It was after that he traveled to Germany, where he received a non-invasive plasma-enrichment procedure called Orthokine.

In Jason Wolf of’s (now famous on this site) November article, he explained:

One internationally respected orthopedic surgeon, who is not involved with Bynum’s treatment and has not seen his MRIs, told The News Journal that all of the information that has been released by the player and the Sixers points to a likely diagnosis of osteochondritis dessicans lesions. The surgeon said that if this is the case, there’s a small chance that Bynum’s knees could heal sufficiently on their own in time for him to return for the playoffs this season, but called that scenario “wishing on a star. While they can heal non-operatively, they can take a long time [four to six months] to heal, and in adult athletes, frequently they will require surgical intervention at some point if there isn’t adequate healing within the first several months of treatment,” the surgeon said.

So the Sixers waited exactly six months for Bynum, while continuously telling fans and the media that Bynum was having “setbacks” rather than just telling the truth. Bynum (as expected) had arthoscopic or “very minor” surgery on both of his knees earlier this month and will now be fully healthy to start the 2013-14 season. 

Was this all part of the ownership’s grand scheme? Did they want to scare other teams away from going after Andrew Bynum this offseason by using his return as a mirage? Was their goal to get the best contract possible out of Bynum that they could while also setting up the franchise for an extremely bright future?

The NBA salary cap, including the luxury tax, is roughly $70.3 million. According to’s numbers, the 76ers owe just $46 million in salaries in 2013-14 and roughly $27 million in 2014-15.

If they do sign Bynum the deal is potentially a five-year, $50 million contract with plenty of built in incentives. This gives the 76ers plenty of cap room moving forward. Shouldn’t fans be happy that it’s not going to be the five-year, $80 million deal which was expected when he was traded to the team back in August?

The 76ers have in a sense gotten Holiday and Bynum (potentially) on super valuable deals and will also save close to $10 million a year that they can spend elsewhere.

Not only that, but by the ownership staying put this season and not going after players like Josh Smith in a trade at the deadline and deciding to “tank”, the Sixers can get between the 6th to 8th pick (if they stop winning) in the upcoming draft and spend it on a potentially elite NBA guard. has the Sixers selecting with the 11th pick in the draft currently, but that number should slide to at least the 8th pick by seasons end. They have guard’s Victor Oladipo of Indiana and Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA slotted as the 8th and 9th picks currently. It’s not unrealistic to believe that the 76ers won’t have a shot at either of these players who have the potential to be elite NBA shooting guards.

People can say to the contrary that the 76ers got rid of Iguodala, Vucevic and Harkless for nothing, but those people also fail to remember that the 76ers wanted to draft Arnett Moultrie all along in this years draft,  and they nabbed him from the Heat basically for free now that the 76ers are a lottery-bound team. Make no mistake, the ownership knew that the only way to get Andrew Bynum was to include Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless in the trade. If Bynum averages 18 points and 11 rebounds next season for the 7-6 will you really be crying to have Nikola Vucevic back?

Think about this starting lineup for a second…Jrue Holiday, Victor Oladipo, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Andrew Bynum.

Think about this bench for a second…Spencer Hawes, Jason Richardson, Lavoy Allen, Damien Wilkins, Kwame Brown and potentially Dorell Wright.

Is there any reason to believe that this team wouldn’t win 50+ games next season? The 76ers also have the opportunity to add a player like O.J. Mayo or Tony Allen as well in the offseason with the extra cap room they’ve provided for themselves and in the 2014 offseason the opportunities are endless in terms of who they could sign.

Their image may be as scarred as the corporate executives once were for the corporation Enron, but in a seasons time don’t be afraid to hold back your applause for the 76ers ownership. Get ready to forgive and forget, because the 76ers championship runs are just around the corner and the slight pain you’ve had to suffer this season will pay off 10-fold when all is said and done.

Buckle yourselves in, because the freight train is coming…



  1. Alex
    28. March 2013 at 21:24

    I will not explain it as elegantly as you have done it, just like a novel, but I agree with most of what you said. These owners are not just rich; they are Wall Street type who uses sophisticated tools like game theory etc. to plan and move ahead. They study all potential scenarios, and the possible outcomes. They far smarter and sophisticated than all NBA front offices. This not basketball, it is business games. They know about Bynum for sure.
    I am not sure I would agree about with you on the bright future for Sixers, but we have to wait and see.

  2. Ryan
    28. March 2013 at 23:13

    I hope this is true, that would make me feel much better. However even if it is a conspiracy I am still not sure i want Bynum, especially not on five years.

  3. MattSg
    29. March 2013 at 00:38

    F*** bynum!

  4. EP MD
    29. March 2013 at 08:47

    C O N Spiracy! Thank you Daman Wayans!

    Bynum is not going to suddenly heal and become impervious to injury. He is and will always be a game away from season ending surgery.

    So at 10 million or 20 million a bench ornament doesn’t equate to 50 wins…

  5. Ransom
    29. March 2013 at 12:11

    Ok, but how much of this plan is contingent on a player who has really never been healthy…getting and staying healthy? They could have tanked without picking up an expensive (even at a discount) and risky asset. I agree that that hypothetical lineup you threw out would be interesting and pretty good. But the health is a HUGE if. If you’re planning for the next 10 years what would you rather have? That lineup contingent on Bynum staying healthy (never gonna happen) Or one of Holiday, Oladipo, Harkless, Thad, Vuc. You’d still have the same bench, bolstered by Turner. And you’d have lottery picks this year AND next year (an already loaded draft class) AND more salary cap room than they do now. Oh, and also, no one in starting lineup would be over 25…oh and none of them are injury prone.

  6. Steve Toll
    29. March 2013 at 12:23

    From a “we faked the moon landing” conspiracy theory standpoint, this is a beautifully written piece.


    I’m broke and live in my parents basement. If I was named the GM of the team tomorrow, I’d immediately be a top 10 GM AT WORST

    If you actually believe what you wrote, I’d love a legit and detailed explanation for you thoughts

    It’s not

    Bynum has done the franchise a huge favor

    EP MD,

    Word Fo Sho

  7. Ransom
    29. March 2013 at 14:20

    Steve, if we’re dumb enough to sign him to a bad deal, has he still done us a huge favor? Regardless, id still like the explanation of how we are necessarily better with him than if we hadn’t made the trade. There were trades on the table this past summer of Iggy for the 7th or 8th pick. Then you’d have a team of: Holiday, Turner, Harkless, Thad, Vuc, That 8th pick (Andre Drummond Anyone?) Hawes, Moultrie… That team is younger and cheaper than the one we have now and will if we keep Bynum. They would be bad this year, meaning we’d still have the lottery pick we do now.

  8. T. Magee
    29. March 2013 at 15:15

    Bynum is a game-changer (when healthy). Owners hoped he’d play, but it didn’t work out this season. Since business-minded people think long-term, they’ll start again with Bynum next season. No conspiracy, just adapting to circumstances.

    Steve Toll,
    Adults that live in their parent’s basement are there for a reason, and it’s not typically because they’re overly competent individuals. Reading about how you’d be a top 10 GM if only the “oblivious” owners stopped overlooking your obvious genius is beyond annoying. If I wasn’t such a Sixers fan, it might be enough to keep me off this site. If you think you’re capable, then go talk yourself into an internship at Wells Fargo and get started. Otherwise, drop the complex. It’s tired.

  9. EP MD
    30. March 2013 at 00:52

    This article is ridiculous if not proposerious, so I’m incredulous. I’m thinking Jeff Mc is either making a plea for his own sanity or looking for a way to mollify us fans for the new plutocracy.

    The point is we got taken for an oft injured “game changer” and unrestricted free agent. Plus an expensive oft injured sg.

    I don’t know why DC had it out for Nic, he is an athletic kid with good size, offensive skill and rebounding potential and HEALTH! Mo looked like a future star, maybe next season he’d step it up but crazy potential. Screw Iggy, but we could have at least gotten a late first early 2nd pick for him, something?! Alas not to be.

    Our new front office liked how last year felt, they gambled big. We lost big.

  10. EP MD
    30. March 2013 at 00:53

    But credit where credit is due. Jeff, we are talking about it…

  11. Wang
    30. March 2013 at 00:56

    No one knows the next draft class is probably the worst one in years??????

    Look at those players this year, hyped one got injured or couldn’t end up making to the tournament, or, knocked out of early rounds……

    We may have another ET.

  12. Joe
    30. March 2013 at 14:22

    is there any reason to think they won’t win 50 games next season? I can think of 2 big ones – Bynum’s knees! He got surgery and will be well to start the season…. until the next up-and-under move bone bruise?

  13. Steve Toll
    30. March 2013 at 21:32

    Instead of writing a follow up debunking this article, I’ll pose a question that will answer everything.

    Why aren’t the 76ers completely tanking?

  14. Jon
    31. March 2013 at 00:57

    Steve, my goodness, will you please cut this crap about how you could be a GM in the nba. That’s a heaping pile of bull crap. Like T. Magee said if that was the case why don’t you have a job working for an nba team? That’s how it all starts, man if you want to achieve your dream you’ve got to pursue it. I’m not sure where you got these crazy fantasies from. If I had to guess I’d probably say fantasy basketball, since on this site you’ve spoke of your success. Except in the real nba you don’t get any player you want. For example, how do you know the sixers didn’t approach Ryan Anderson and he just flat out denied them and said he didn’t want to play in front of the harsh fans here? Things are probably a lot more complicated than you or any of us really think.

  15. ChocolateThunder
    31. March 2013 at 15:47

    It’s a little early for April Fools.

  16. Steve Toll
    31. March 2013 at 19:14


    I’ll just talk about RAnderson. NBA players spend 41 games a year with harsh fans, they are called away games.

    RAnderson is superior to Jrue Holiday, an All-Star, in every single publicly available advanced metric, why would the 76ers fan “harshness” be a concern for him?

    RAnderson is also woefully underpaid at 8.5 million per year on average and the 76ers could have offered him even more if for some reason, the fans were an actual deterrent to his wanting to come here.

    So your RAnderson conjecture is 100% false

    I look forward to your well thought out rebuttal

  17. Rob h
    1. April 2013 at 12:29

    Funny that a 3 point specialist who plays no d what so ever is a better player than jrue.

  18. Steve Toll
    2. April 2013 at 12:13

    Rob H,

    Jrue isn’t that good and never has been.

    RAnderson has been quite good since his first NBA minutes.
    A 3pt specialist is better than a low efficiency turnover machine who gets a lot of assists

  19. Jon
    2. April 2013 at 19:31

    Steve, yeah I don’t know about well thought out, it is possible for players simply not wanting to play for some teams. It’s cold here.

    That being said I was just using that as an example to point out that the way things work in the nba are probably a lot more complicated than you or any of us think.

  20. Steve Toll
    2. April 2013 at 23:29


    How so? Its a job.

    You realize how much someone would have to dislike a place to turn a raise of $1,500,000 a YEAR?

    We’re not talking North Dakota, its Philly.

    I’ve got a bit more insight than you’d think and the NBA is pretty simple.

    Highest Bidder 999/1000 wins out especially with young people and huge amounts of money

  21. Jon
    3. April 2013 at 19:35

    You right! You right!

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