HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Confident just 10 days ago that he would play this season, injured Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum now has serious doubts after another setback.
Bynum said he has swelling and discomfort in his right knee following last week’s limited practice sessions with the team that sparked hope that the 7-footer would soon make his season debut. Bynum addressed the Philadelphia media Friday and said his hopes for playing are diminishing.
“Now it’s getting really late [in the season], so I really don’t know,” Bynum said. “It’s [not playing] definitely a thought. It’s my body. It’s my knees.”
Asked if he’s concerned that he won’t make it back this season, Bynum said, “I’m not really concerned, it’s more frustrating. You work to get to a point and you have to back down so it’s kind of tough.”
Bynum has missed the entire season with bone bruises in both knees. He believed that rehabbing and rest during the season would get him back on the court pain-free, a precondition that he said is mandatory for him to put on a Sixers uniform for the first time this season.
“That’s true, I don’t want to play in pain,” Bynum said. “I still think I can play, but like I said, the season is short.”
Philadelphia is headed for the lottery as this frustrating year continues to slip away. The Sixers have lost seven consecutive games and are six games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 26 games to play.
The Philadelphia front office hoped to see Bynum play at some point this season to have a better working knowledge of his health and to better prepare for what is going to be a difficult decision-making process this summer. Bynum, who is owed $16.9 million this season, becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.
Just 10 days ago, Bynum felt good enough to declare that he’d “definitely be back some time” this season.
Bynum, who played in 60 of 66 games last season for the Los Angeles Lakers after several injury-plagued seasons, would be in line for a max contract had he remained healthy. Obviously now, the Sixers and every other team interested in the skilled big man will carefully have to weigh risk versus reward.
Bynum said he’s not concerned about his next contract.
“Being healthy is more important than everything else,” Bynum said. “If I’m healthy I’ll get a deal, but I have to be able to play. I need to get to the point with body that I’m able to play, however long that takes.”