Andrew Bynum suffers setback, unsure if he'll play this season

Andrew Bynum suffers setback, unsure if he'll play this season

March 1, 2013, 3:15 pm

A little over a week ago, Andrew Bynum said he was 100 percent sure he’ll play this season. On Friday, Bynum changed his position on the topic.

The Sixers' center revealed that he had a “setback” after participating in five-on-five drills last Friday. Bynum said his right knee swelled up thereafter and that it’s “still swollen.” Since then, Bynum hasn’t done any basketball related activity, returning instead to “rehab stuff” in order to get “the fluid out.”

When asked whether he’s still confident that he’ll play this season, Bynum hesitated.

“Now, it’s getting really late,” Bynum said. “I really don’t know.”

Bynum’s right knee plagued him earlier in the year. As it started to get better, his left knee acted up. Now, the center insists his left knee feels fine but he’s back to experiencing pain – and swelling – in the right.

“Left knee feels good,” Bynum said. “It’s like, if your right arm is hurting and someone punches you in your left one, you forget about the right one. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

Where he’s at right now is a return to rehabilitation – mainly ice and physical therapy. Bynum said he wasn’t on the bench for Tuesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic at home because he was “in the back” getting treatment. Bynum contended that it wasn’t unusual for him not to sit with his team, though he admitted that there’s value in being part of the squad in whatever capacity is possible.

“It’s definitely important to kind of be a team leader, sit down, and really support your team,” Bynum said. “That’s important. But also trying to get out and play to help your team, I think that’s more important.”

That last part – getting healthy in order to play – obviously hasn’t happened yet this year. When asked whether his knees are degenerative, Bynum replied: “The condition, actually, 50 percent of the people in the United States have it right now. It just happens that I play basketball so it takes out a little bit more in my world. So it’s frustrating.”

Bynum explained that he’s not sure anything more can be done medically to ease his pain, though he added that he’s hopeful about the prospect for new procedures.

“They just grew cartilage in a petri dish,” Bynum said. “I think science is looking at it. Doctors are looking at it. And it’s a serious problem. And they’re going to come up with something.”

Bynum – who will make around $16.4 million this season – will be a free agent after the year. There has been an on-going debate about whether he needs to play at some point in order to secure another big-money contract. Does Bynum believe that’s the case?

“No,” Bynum responded. “I think being healthy is more important than everything else. If I am healthy, then I’ll get a deal. But I have to be able to play. I need to get to the point with my body that I’m able to play. However long that takes.”

It has taken quite a while. If Bynum is frustrated about that, the Sixers must be as well. After practice on Friday, Doug Collins addressed the on-going Bynum saga and the center’s latest setback.

“We always talked about, the biggest concern was going to be, when he tried to get back out on the floor, how would his knees react,” Collins said. “And when you get swelling, that is a major concern. I think right now, with the swelling, that makes it very difficult. From his standpoint, he’s 25 years old. He’s got to start monitoring, is he going to play or is he going to have to shut it down for the year and what’s it going to do for his career? There’s a lot on his table as a free agent.”

As the regular season funnels toward its conclusion – the Sixers have 26 games remaining – some people have wondered whether Bynum is willing to step on the court while experiencing discomfort. Toward the end of his question-and-answer session, Bynum was asked whether he worries about the perception that he’s reluctant to play with pain.

“That’s true,” Bynum said. “I don’t want to play in pain.”