It seems basketball season may finally be starting in Philadelphia, with opening day just around the corner. That is opening day for the team the 76ers thought they had when they made one of the biggest trades in the offseason for big man Andrew Bynum. Today, Bynum made the first step towards putting on a Sixers uniform- he worked out.
Bynum was seen by Philly reporters shooting jumpers from the wings and the baseline on Monday. No running, no jumping and certainly no slam dunking ( oh yeah, and no bowling therapy either.) But following a seemingly endless series of setbacks with injuries to both knees, Bynum at last said he now has his sights set on playing this season. “I have no idea exactly, I just want to get back,” he said. “I think, I’m hoping around the All-Star break. That’s what I’m hoping. I have no idea exactly when I’ll be back.”
The All-Star break ends Feb 20 and the Sixers would then have 31 regular season games left to play. Currently sitting at 16-22 and ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, not impossible, but very much improbable and borderline fantasy to think Bynum could lift the Sixers into the playoffs and then make them a real force once they got there. But since one, then two bad knees kept him from being ready at the start of the season, that was never the significant part of the story. The Sixers need to know how fit and how capable Bynum’s playing ability will be over the final month or so of this season before committing themselves to him for the next five years with a max level contract.
The Sixers front office says it has a plan going forward no matter how things turn out with Bynum. But let’s face it, having a 7-footer who could immediately be the best center in the East, is the preferred way to start. With Jrue Holiday having a breakout year and Evan Turner taking steps forward, putting Bynum in the lineup would make things interesting in Philly for the final 30 or so games of the season.
Right now Bynum is taking small steps in his conditioning work outs, simple treadmill and a machine that lessens the effects of gravity. As he progresses, he’ll move up to straight line running and then lateral movements. The most important thing is to ensure that Bynum is not feeling any pain in his knees and seeing that he is working out is a big plus sign in that direction.