Bynum has 'pain,' but doesn't feel it's a setback

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Bynum has 'pain,' but doesn't feel it's a setback

We’re 50 games into the NBA season and there is still no sign of the real Philadelphia 76ers. According to Andrew Bynum in his weekly Monday press briefing, there really is no target date for when we will get a look at the real version of the Sixers.

Bynum spoke again before Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Wells Fargo Center and shed no new insight for the only two questions that folks want to know about.

There are:

When are you going to practice?

When are you going to play?

The answer to both, according to Bynum, is he doesn’t know.

“I’m not sure,” Bynum said when asked if he was going to play in a game by the end of February. “We’ll have to see if I had a setback or not. Right now, things are going well. I’m losing weight and staying on the court for as long as I can, so that’s good.”

Things are progressing for Bynum in his basketball-related activities. He is able to run all out on the basketball court with the full brunt of his 305 pounds crashing onto the floor. He can do defensive slides and he can make cuts. He also can shoot the ball from every spot on the floor, including in the paint where he can jump into the air and cram it through the rim.

Those are all good things.

However, Bynum has neither engaged in a full-contact practice nor worked out with another player during his shooting or low-post drills. He hasn’t been pushed under the basket or felt the sting of an elbow while battling for a rebound.

That’s not so good.

In fact, Bynum said he slowed down his workouts ever-so slightly because of something he called, “pain” in his left knee. No, there was no accompanying swelling with the pain and he wasn’t really sure if it was something he would call a setback. It could be, Bynum allowed, routine post-workout soreness given that he feels no significant pain or anything to sway him from working out the next day.

Once again, Bynum doesn’t know the answer.

“I worked out for two days on the court and I had a lot of pain, so I backed off a little bit today,” Bynum explained. “I’ll be back on the court tomorrow and we’ll progress from there.”

For now, the pain, which Bynum described as a “tingling,” he is experiencing is a mystery.

“I don’t know if it’s normal soreness or if I can play with it or what it is,” Bynum said. “It’s not anything that I haven’t felt, so it’s not new. It continues to go away over time, so that’s all good stuff.”

So, about that return, Andrew … when is it going to be?

“When I’m on the court, I’ll be ready,” Bynum said. “I’m trying as hard as I can. It would suck to play through pain, but sometimes you have to.”

The bottom line is Bynum is not ready to play yet. But when that day comes -- whenever it is -- Bynum says he’ll be ready.

After Game No. 50 against the Clippers on Monday night, the Sixers face the Bucks on Wednesday night before heading off to the All-Star break. A week from Wednesday, the Sixers open the second half with Game No. 52 in Minnesota.

Where will Bynum be then?

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.