NBA News: Sixers' Andrew Bynum Says He Will Play This Season

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIDecember 21, 2012

Dec 12, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) prior to the game against the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center. The Bulls defeated the Sixers 96-89. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Bynum, the Philadelphia 76ers’ big off-season acquisition, is determined to get back onto the court this season.

“I’m confident I’ll be on the court this season,” Bynam said, according to an AP report (via FOX Sports).

Bynum received good news on Friday. He was cleared to begin a six-step rehabilitation process that could eventually lead to him getting back on the practice court.

The Sixers don't necessarily share Bynum's enthusiasm, though. Team GM Tony DiLeo was non-committal about a timetable for his return, according to Tom Moore of (via Twitter):

#Sixers DiLeo: 'hard to predict if (#Bynum) can get back' in time to make impact this season.

— Tom Moore (@tmoorepburbs) December 21, 2012

Making an impact is exactly what the Sixers thought Bynum would do this season. Instead, Philly has struggled and posted just a 12-14 record through Dec. 20. That record could get worse as the season wears on in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference.

Other injuries haven’t helped them, either. Jrue Holiday, the team’s perceived PG of the future, has missed some time as well.

While Bynum may be optimistic that he can back onto the court before season's end, the Sixers are clearly planning for the worst. Even if he does make it back, the team could be out of contention by the time that day comes.

That would make his return bittersweet.

The four-team deal that sent Bynum from the West to East Coast has left the Sixers in a bind. They sent Andre Iguodala, their top scorer, to Denver in hopes of securing a dominant post player to hold down the paint.

That hasn’t happened as Bynum has missed the entire season to this point thanks to bone bruises in his knees. That injury has been exacerbated by arthritis that has kept him from beginning the rehabilitation process, until now.

Arthritis can be nasty, like in the way has plagued former Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy and forced him into a potentially early retirement after a multitude of surgeries.

Bynum’s case may not be as severe as Roy’s, but the big man should take his time with recovery. Having him back this season is important for the team, but the long-term success of his career and the franchise should trump an early return.