Collins, 76ers focused on getting Bynum on court before season starts

Posted: October 09, 2012

There has been little, if any, wasted time at 76ers training camp.

Sixers coach Doug Collins has lectured about offense and defense, and the players have engaged in spirited scrimmages, some requiring overtime to settle. On Thursday, the Sixers will play their first preseason game in Orlando, Fla., and the process will take yet another step.

But as Collins pointed out on Monday, the last week of the preseason will be the most important for the team and new addition Andrew Bynum. The 7-foot center spoke for the first time Monday since it was announced that he would continue to rest his knees through the preseason.

"Unless there is any setback, I'd love to get at least seven good days in with him before we have to start," Collins said. "When you throw a big guy like that out there, it changes the whole face of your team. So we hope we'll have some practice time with him to do that."

Collins was referring to the span from Oct. 23 to 29. That's when the 76ers anticipate having seven crucial practices to turn a laser-like focus on the process of getting Bynum and his new mates in sync in preparation for the Oct. 31 season opener against Denver at the Wells Fargo Center.

Bynum said that although he is still experiencing some discomfort in his knees, he could play if the Sixers were in the regular season right now. He and the team have decided to err on the side of caution, though, as Bynum recovers from a medical treatment he underwent last month. Bynum traveled to Germany and received injections of plasma-rich platelets in his knees to help with arthritis-affected areas.

"I think that's really rudimentary," Bynum said of the practice plan. "You can't just go out and play an NBA game. I would want [practice time] for myself and I'm glad [coach Collins] said that. It's super important because I'm going to have to be in here with the rookies running through the plays and catching up. So, you need practice in order to play the game well."

Bynum, acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade in August, said it was "tough" not to practice. "It's a new team, too, so I want to be out there. It would be different, obviously, if it was L.A., where we had an established core. But I don't know my teammates all that well, yet. I don't know their games yet, so training camp would be important."

Bynum said that his knees felt "pretty good" and were "definitely getting better."

"If all the beans were on the table, I'd definitely be out there," he said.

To compensate for Bynum's absence, the Sixers have practiced as if he were out there, simulating him as best they can. Bynum has been at every practice, watching intently.

What is certain is that Collins will not rush Bynum back too soon. Last season in 60 of a possible 66 regular-season games, Bynum averaged career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8). He finished sixth in the league in blocked shots (1.93). Bynum was the third offensive option for the Lakers behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

"When he gets back, we want him at full strength," Collins said. "No setbacks. We don't want to have to revisit this later."

Bynum appreciates that.

"I feel like he really understands being a player," he said of Collins. "He believes in giving them a lot of rest and making sure nobody gets hurt and everybody is in tip-top shape."

Notes. The Sixers moved their base from St. Joseph's University to Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. They will conduct just one practice per day for the rest of the preseason. . . . Bynum was the only player not to participate in practice on Monday.


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com.

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