Temper your expectations, Sixers fans—he's not coming back yet. Even if he were, it doesn't sound as if he would do much good for the struggling lineup.
At least, that's the latest from head coach Doug Collins, via The Philadelphia Inquirer, after it was reported on Friday that Bynum went through five-on-five contact drills in practice and scrimmaged a little bit with his teammates for the first time since being traded in the summer.
Collins confirmed that Bynum practiced on Saturday night, prior to his team's showdown with the Miami Heat.
Speaking to reporters as his team was getting ready to play, Collins maintained that the timetable on Bynum's return is still iffy at best, and the practice shouldn't alert the bell ringer to sound the chimes.
Here's what Collins had to say about his star center (via ESPN 97.3):
There shouldn’t be bells and whistles sent out that he is anywhere close to playing. He (Bynum) says he is going to play, but this season is slipping away, we have 24 games after Sunday.
In a very candid statement, Collins also addressed how Bynum looked on the court. Spoiler alert: It wasn't good. "Bynum looked like a guy who hadn’t played in nine months," Collins told reporters.
While practice is a promising sign for the young center, he's not out of the woods just yet.
Originally, Bynum was supposed to have a noninvasive plasma procedure in September that former teammate Kobe Bryant and fellow NBA player Grant Hill have both undergone (via The Philadelphia Inquirer).
His infamous knees didn't recover well enough to debut with the team in 2012, and Bynum made national headlines again in November when he injured his knee bowling (via SLAM).
Dealing with injections and setbacks since then, Bynum has been unable to keep his targeted return dates—until Friday's practice. While it's a good sign for his return at the end of this season, his head coach doesn't want anyone to get excited just yet.
The 76ers took a huge chance in bringing him to town this summer.
Bynum is a one-time All-Star (2012), has career averages of 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks and won two NBA championships with the Lakers. Despite that huge pedigree, he was a constant headache for L.A. management and has missed parts of each of the last six seasons with injury.
As the Orlando Magic looked for a trade partner for Dwight Howard, Philadelphia emerged as a third-party suitor. Howard went to L.A. and Bynum came to Philly, but the Sixers sent away first-round pick Maurice Harkless and Olympian Andre Iguodala in the deal.
To make matters worse, Bynum is a free agent at the end of the season.
He stands to make more money by staying in Philadelphia, but free agency is too unpredictable to bank on him sticking around if money and fame are located elsewhere.
It's probably one of the reasons Collins isn't excited about his potential return. Not yet, anyway.
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