Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum has yet to step onto the hardwood this season, but vowed on Tuesday that he would make his debut this year.
“I’ll definitely be back sometime this year,” Bynum told a group of reporters on Tuesday. “I’m focused on getting back and being right versus trying to rush.”
Bynum has been plagued by knee problems since the 76ers trade for him last summer. Bynum has had reoccurring bone bruises and cartilage damage in both knees, which have prevented him from being able to practice or play in a game this season.
The 25-year-old’s timetable for a return has been delayed several times since the beginning of training camp. He first said that he would be ready to play around Christmas, and then he pushed his return to “around the All-Star break.”
The 7-foot, 305-pound Bynum is scheduled to visit Jonathan Glashow, an orthopedic surgeon and co-chief of sports medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, on Wednesday. Glashow will determine what is going on with the knees of Bynum and whether he will need surgery.
But Bynum feels that surgery will not help his knees.
“Just deal with it without any type of intervention or any surgery,” Bynum said. “You have to deal with it. I just think this is something I have to get used to. I don’t know if I will ever play without pain. I can play with a considerable amount.”
One reason why Bynum wants to return this season is because he will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He is making $16.9 million this season, but if he was healthy he could’ve been seeking a five-year deal worth more than $100 million.
Bynum understands that he will not command that much in the offseason with the issues with his knees. He wants to return healthy.
“I think everybody knows what I can at this point in this league,” Bynum said. “The question with me is going to be are my knees going to hold up. That’s what organizations have to think about. All I have to think about is putting up buckets.”
The Sixers could surely use his buckets right now as they sit in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They are 22-29 with 31 games remaining in the regular season.
But Bynum estimated that he is a week or two away from practicing. If he is exactly two weeks away from practicing and takes 10 days to get into “game shape,” he would make his season debut against the Indiana Pacers on March 16 in Philly, according to USA Today.
Bynum averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game last season, all of which were career highs for the former All-Star. But sitting out the rest of the season is not an option.
“For me, I have to do as much as possible to stay in shape and stay around the game,” he said. “You can’t just go completely away from the game. You get overweight, you lose touch and stuff like that. You want to stay around and do enough not hurt it.”