For the first time in a week, Bynum was available to reporters after the team's 3-hour practice Monday morning at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and with helpful DVDs and paperwork in hand, he is doing as much as he can to be on the court on the targeted date, which is about a week before the team's season opener against the Denver Nuggets.
"I feel pretty good, I'm definitely getting better," said the soft-spoken Bynum. "I've been really trying to get to know the offense because it's all brand new. I've got a DVD so I'm going to watch some tape on it so I can familiarize myself on it for when I get back out."
And when might that be?
"I'm not sure," Bynum said. "It's really up to the trainers and the doctors right now, but I think if all the beans were on the table right now I'd be out there. It definitely feels better. A lot of it has to do with my pain threshold. It's just to the point where I can't run up and down with the team right now."
Bynum is doing all the physical - and mental - work that he possibly can right now and his coach seems to see a difference in his coveted player.
"I just see he comes in and he's got the little wrap and the brace on," said Collins of Bynum's right knee attire. "He's out on the floor and he's spinning and doing some stuff, doing some of the things he couldn't do before. Plus, I see it in his personality, he's happier. I think he senses he's getting closer to play. Anybody that's ever been injured, especially going to a new team where so much is expected, you want to get out there and play. It's a downer. He's worked his tail off. When he's not watching he's either doing something on the elliptical or in the weight room working and doing something. You can just sense that he's feeling better. That's a positive sign.
"Unless there's any setback, I'd love to get at least 7 good days in with him before we start [the regular season]. Once we start, when you throw a big guy in the game like that it changes the whole face of your team. We hope we'll have some practice time with him to do that."
What Collins has seen during the week's worth of practices is that he has many parts to assemble into a nice, neat package before hosting the Nuggets. Though his centerpiece is still inactive, the other parts have intrigued him. And what became pretty apparent Monday is that it looks like Kwame Brown will get the first shot at starting in the middle in Bynum's place.
"I feel very comfortable right now that if we do keep 14 guys I feel like I can play any of the 14 guys," Collins said. "From what I've seen in the scrimmages so far all 14 of the guys I would feel comfortable putting any of them in the game. I feel good about that. It will all shake itself out. The big thing is we're trying to make sure that we have guys playing their roles and playing with guys who they play really well with.
"With Thad [Young] and Spencer [Hawes], it's very, very important that they play next to a guy who is very big and strong. With Evan [Turner], when he's on the court and Jrue's [Holiday] off the floor, we want to make sure we have another ball handler out there. With a guy like Kwame, with Andrew out and him being [in the starting rotation], one of the things he does is he helps get you in the penalty early because he's around the basket and he's getting fouled as opposed to maybe bringing him in off the bench and maybe being in foul situations and maybe they take fouls [on Brown, a 57.3 percent career foul shooter]. It's all the things you start thinking about when you try to put the pieces together.
"But our guys are good. We have to now start defining roles. We've seen each other now for about a week."
In order to hasten that process Collins gave each of his players a card to fill out and return to the coach. On it they were to write what they thought they meant to the team. Bynum, for one, was eager to get started on the task.
"I think it's going to be a pretty long one, that's all I know," he said with a knowing grin. Since he has had ample amount of time to scout his new team and coach, Bynum offered what he has taken in.
"We can shoot the heck out of the ball and the offense is looking really good," he said. "Defensively, we have a lot of work to do, but that's kind of natural. I feel like [Collins] really understands being a player. He's given a lot of rest, he makes sure nobody is getting hurt and everybody's always in tip-top shape. Offensively, he's putting in different things so he's harping home that we've got to keep our mind into the practice and stay prepared. Off the court, we've been great, we've had a lot of conversations. He told me what he expects from me and he always has an open door and that's the best thing you want in a coach."
Maalik Wayns again looked very strong in the team's scrimmage, converting a couple of hard drives to the basket and subsequent foul shots while dealing a couple of assists in the 15-minute session . . . The first unit starters were Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown.
Contact Bob Cooney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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