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Can Andrew Bynum and Doug Collins Coexist?

Sixers head man Doug Collins. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Before you let yourself get swept off by talk of championships and dynasties and destinations, you have to ask yourself: can Doug Collins and Andrew Bynum really work?

That might be the biggest sticking point of last night’s big news, reported by Adrian Wojnaroski of Yahoo! Sports, of a four-team blockbuster that lands Andrew Bynum in Philadelphia, Dwight Howard in LA and Andre Iguodala in Denver, and all the fan fare that follows.

Before it can be greatness, it has to actually function.

That’s no sure thing. Bynum put himself on the trading block, made himself dispensable, changed his distinction from franchise cornerstone to migraine headache for the way he clashed with Phil Jackson. That’s right, the Zen Master.

Not just a two-time three-peater and the guy credited with bringing the triangle offense to the NBA, Jackson was legendary for being a motivator, a controller, a manager. Maybe one of the greatest basketball, and people, minds of our time.

On Bynum? Totally ineffective.

Instead of falling in line, Bynum pretty infamously lined up Playboy bunnies and clotheslined J.J. Barea, among other colossal screw-ups, under Jackson. And this wasn’t just a Jackson thing; Bynum’s “trust issues” comment this past postseason proved he was the problem first and most.

Collins is cut very much from the same cloth as Jackson. When he speaks, you get the sense that people listen. His voice is soothing in that way, his pedigree (Collins was a former No. 1 overall pick of the Sixers as a point guard) convincing. That’s how he was able to keep this inexperienced and (at times) immature roster focused and together, and be competitive.

But Andre Iguodala (traded to Denver) and Elton Brand (amnestied in July) were there to help him, to act as extensions of him, to bolster Collins’ credibility and lead by his example.

They’re gone.

Now, in comes one of the game’s biggest malcontents, at a pretty sensitive time for the organization.

Remember the last time Wojnarowski was talking Sixers? It was that Collins was making a push for more power within the organization, and pushing GM Rod Thorn out in favor of Danny Ferry. Instead, Ferry went to Atlanta, (speculation alert) and you have to wonder whether Collins scared him off with his big personality and bigger ambitions.

The hierarchy is still all sorts of unstable. Thorn (one year left on his deal) is essentially a lame duck, and his successor hasn’t yet been named. Last we heard, things were heating up with Tom Penn — on July 23. That there haven’t been developments isn’t exactly doing anything to mitigate fear about the state of the Sixers, internally.

Nor, frankly, is Bynum. Not making a move like this is the stuff people lose their jobs over. Making a move like this, pitting two monster-sized egos against one another, could set the franchise back a decade.

If Collins, 61, can keep this together, he should be allowed to coach, GM, own — whatever — indefinitely.

If he can’t, there might not be anything left for him to coach, GM, own — whatever — for sure.

 

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