Earlier this week Andrew Bynum said he would be practicing with the Sixers soon.
Turns out, soon was Friday.
Bynum took part in a full practice and scrimmage, something first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer and and confirmed by coach Doug Collins to CSNPhilladelphia.com’s Dei Lynam.
Bynum, who has missed the entire season with bone bruises in his knees, took part in a full-contact practice with the Sixers on Friday. It was the center’s first 5-on-5 action with the team.
“We went [5-on-5] and he said, ‘Do you mind if I get in and play a little bit,'” coach Doug Collins said prior to the Sixers’ game against the Heat Saturday night. “So I said, ‘No, go out there and play and see how you feel.'”
Collins admitted that Bynum “looked like a guy who had not played in nine months” and indicated that the center is not on pace for an immediate return.
What is key is how Bynum’s knees react over the next few days. There still is no timeline for his return.
But the Sixers do need Bynum back this season, for two key reasons.
One is that the Sixers remain just 3.5 games out of the playoffs in the East, ground that can be made up but the Sixers need to win a lot of games to rest of the way to have a shot (and they need Milwaukee or Boston to come back to them a little, neither or which is likely).
The bigger issue is that Bynum is a free agent this summer and the Sixers have a lot of questions to answer about both how much to pay him (likely a max, the going rate for All-Star big men) and for how long. They also have to figure out what kind of other pieces fit around Bynum and Jrue Holiday.
If he can get back for 15-20 games, the Sixers can start to make some reasonable evaluations.