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Dr. J: Hard to deal with Lakers, Celts

Julius Erving said Wednesday that the Philadelphia 76ers received "damaged goods" when they acquired center Andrew Bynum.

Erving, speaking in Philadelphia before the premiere of "The Doctor," a documentary on his life, said teams always have to be wary when dealing with teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, who rarely get the short end of trades.

"When you talk to the Lakers, when you talk to the Celtics, when you talk to -- well, those two in particular -- the guy on the other end of the phone has his fingers crossed," Erving told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "So whatever he's telling you, he's not telling you the truth. He's working a deal for him. And what happened to us last year with getting damaged goods hopefully will only happen once. And that's the extent of that learning curve."

Erving, who serves as a special consultant to 76ers owner Joshua Harris, explained his comments Thursday in an interview with ESPN's "SportsCenter."

"I was talking about the Sixers and the management and the ownership and their commitment to excellence, to being a contender, to being a champion. And they set a timeline of five to seven years three seasons ago, so as they close in on that timeline, the comment was really about not making any mistakes. Not making decisions that don't turn out," he said.

"So that's how we got over to the Andrew Bynum decision, which on paper seemed like a good decision. But forewarned is foretold," he said. "If you're going to deal with the Celtics who are our natural rivals, or the Lakers, the two teams that have won the most championships in the NBA, they're always going to make deals where they get the better end of the deal. That's been their history, that's how they presently are and that's how they're going to be in the future.

"So for the Sixers, to get Andrew Bynum and think he was going to be an All-Star and an all-pro and think he was going to be a valuable part of the franchise, as was the thinking, it turned out to be a bad deal."

Bynum, who was traded to the 76ers in a four-team deal last August that also sent Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets and Dwight Howard to the Lakers, never played for the Sixers because of bone bruises in both knees. He insisted from training camp he would play this season, only to shut it down for good on March 18. He then underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Bynum is one of six free agents for the Sixers, who are devoid of any real assets outside of Jrue Holiday.

Without playing a game for the Sixers, Bynum said at his introductory news conference he wanted to make Philadelphia his home -- and the team was ready to commit.

"Where do I sign?" Harris said last August. "Show me the contract."

There were no enthusiastic endorsements of Bynum at the Sixers' facilities when Sam Hinkie was introduced as the 76ers' president of basketball operations and general manager in May.

"I think of Andrew like the thousands of other young men walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents that have potential to play NBA basketball," Hinkie said. "He is one of those. I'm duty bound to consider them and look at them. All of them."

Hinkie replaced president Rod Thorn, who moved into a consulting role, and GM Tony DiLeo, who was widely credited -- and now blamed -- for orchestrating the botched deal for the injury-prone Bynum.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.