With Andrew Bynum, it's important to remember that everything is a step-by-step process. Expecting too much too soon is a recipe for disaster, and the Indiana Pacers have acted accordingly ever since signing him in the middle of the 2013-14 campaign.
Remember, it's been quite a long time since the big man contributed to a quality team. He's bounced from L.A. to Philadelphia to Cleveland to Chicago to the free-agent pool in just two seasons, which makes any positive development a big deal.
"Andrew Bynum practiced three-on-three Thursday, and (Frank) Vogel said he was optimistic the 7-foot center would be ready to play soon," writes Woods. "Soon doesn't mean a week from now, the coach said."
Playing three-on-three is different than playing five-on-five, but that's an encouraging sign for a player who has flopped with multiple teams in recent years. It's also positive that Bynum's penchant for shooting anything and everything wasn't popping up during these practices with the Pacers.
"The goal is to get him to the point where he's able to play every night," Vogel told Woods after the practice. "We don't want him to play one game and sit three games."
It's an admirable goal. Lofty, but admirable.
Even that's not the ultimate end game, though.
"If Bynum is able to provide 15 minutes a night in the conference finals, then the Pacers will be able to put pressure on Miami around the basket at both ends of the floor for 48 minutes. They now have the potential to attack the Heat's glaring weakness for every minute of the game with All-Star size and skills," wrote Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen in early February.
Will Andrew Bynum be ready to contribute by the Eastern Conference Finals?
That's still what the Pacers have to be aiming for, as shoring up the frontline for a seemingly inevitable battle with the Miami Heat remains the primary reason Indiana pulled the trigger on a Bynum deal. Having him able to play every night would be wonderful, but the goal still lies further off in the future.
There's plenty more regular season left to be played, regardless of when he makes his debut in yet another new uniform. Then there are two rounds of postseason competition against sub-elite squads.
If Bynum is already playing three-on-three during practice, perhaps he is on track after all.