Sixers' Andrew Bynum says he's pain-free, hopes to return in Feb.

My knees are "not hurting is what I'm saying. . . . It's time to get ready. I'm getting ready to play," Andrew Bynum said. When? "I'm hoping around the all-star break," he said.    AP
My knees are "not hurting is what I'm saying. . . . It's time to get ready. I'm getting ready to play," Andrew Bynum said. When? "I'm hoping around the all-star break," he said.    AP
Posted: January 16, 2013

As reporters surrounded Doug Collins perched on his gray exercise ball, his position of choice for conducting post-practice interviews, many in the gathering Monday noticed 76ers center Andrew Bynum, his shirt sweated through, firing shots with associate head coach Michael Curry and head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson.

With president Rod Thorn and general manager Tony DiLeo watching intently from midcourt of the Sixers practice facility at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Bynum, unguarded, took some shots in the lane. He then stepped out and flushed some baseline jumpers.

Then he sank some from near the three-point line.

This display, the first of its kind in front of the media since the Sixers acquired Bynum in a four-team, 12-player swap in August, marked the first time Bynum was seen doing any on-court activities.

Bynum has sounded increasingly optimistic in recent weeks when discussing his recovery from bone bruises and weakened cartilage in both knees. When he finished Monday, he gave fans of the Sixers reason to be optimistic that he will play soon.

The 7-foot center said that his knees no longer hurt and that he was "running at an 8-mile-per-hour clip" on the team's treadmills. Bynum would not give a timeline for his return, but he suggested that he could be back next month.

"I have no idea exactly," Bynum said. "I just want to get back. I think, I'm hoping, around the all-star break. That's what I'm hoping."

The team offered no timetable for his return.

The Sixers will begin the all-star break on Feb. 14. Considering that Bynum has yet to run on anything other than joint-protecting exercise machines, it is more likely that if he does return next month it will be sometime after the break. The 76ers' first action after the All-Star Game is Feb. 20 at Minnesota.

The Sixers (16-22) will have 31 regular-season games remaining after the break. They will play 11 of their next 12 games at home starting with Tuesday's game against New Orleans. The improving Hornets (11-26) have won four of their last five.

When a reporter asked Bynum if the pain he felt in his knees was tolerable, Bynum corrected him.

"No, it's minimal," Bynum said. "It's not hurting is what I'm saying. . . . It's time to get ready. I'm getting ready to play."

This was good news to point guard Jrue Holiday.

"It's encouraging to see him out there," Holiday said. "We know what he can mean for us. Hopefully he'll be with us sooner rather than later."


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.

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