Sixers' 'pain-free' Andrew Bynum works out

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Posted: January 16, 2013

THE WORKOUT certainly wasn't strenuous; as it appeared Andrew Bynum had a cellphone tucked into his sock during it. But when the 7-foot, self-proclaimed 300-pounder hit the floor, there was a tinge of excitement at the 76ers practice facility at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on Monday.

When the team finished its practice and media was allowed to come down on the floor to talk with coach Doug Collins and players, Bynum took a variety of shots from all over the floor with coach Michael Curry. Beginning with baby hooks around the basket and moving around one half of the floor until finishing with three-pointers, Bynum's touch appeared to be fine. His shot was generally soft and on target and one thing was obvious - the man is still huge. It's hard not to imagine what he would look like manning the post at both ends of the floor.

But that is still a while away. Bynum has progressed in his workouts, to the point of running on the antigravity treadmill, taking some standstill shots and engaging in more vigorous weightlifting.

There is still so much yet to explore on the court, including how his knees may hold up to increased physical activity.

"I'm coming along well, up to running on the Alter G [antigravity treadmill], a steady 8 mph an hour clip for 20 minutes, so that's good," Bynum said. "I'm incorporating weights, so it's time to get ready, get ready to play. [The weightlifting includes] more explosive stuff, stuff for my legs, my upper body."

As much as his knees are feeling better, it is Bynum's demeanor that really tells the story of where he is. His mood is borderline sunny now compared to the gray cloud that surrounded him when he would meet with media and talk of shutdowns and MRIs and the such. Now, as Bynum put it, he is feeling like a normal basketball player again.

"I feel much better mentally," Bynum said. "I woke up today and I'm ready to go and I can work out, so that's good vs. the alternative of sitting around all day. I'm tired of waiting. The waiting is over, so now emotionally that's good. The running started today. I've been jogging. Weights, I've been doing them but now it's more explosive. Not [running] on the court, on the treadmill. I started off jogging and now running. I haven't started and stopped, acceleration and deceleration, we're still working up to that. The pain is minimal, in both [knees]. It's not hurting. It's pain-free. They're the best that I've had in a long time so they look really, really good to me."

And after the workouts?

"Right now we've worked it down to just ice," he said. "so I'm a regular basketball player again, hopefully."

Bynum was hesitant to put a timetable on his return, though he said he would like to target somewhere around the All-Star break (The All-Star Game is on Feb. 17). There is still much to be done. Bynum, though, appears eager and willing to move forward, generally excited to get on the floor with his new team. He is not, however, completely satisfied with where he is right now.

"No, because I'm not back, but I'm going in a good direction," Bynum said. "It's all positive. I have to decide when I'm going to start [doing more]. I think we have it pretty much mapped out, but it's based on my body and how I'm feeling. We're progressing because I'm not feeling anything [bad]. I will continue to do that. I think I'm fine."

As Bynum spoke to reporters, Jrue Holiday couldn't help but shoot some glances toward the floor where Bynum was getting in his on-court workout.

"It's always good to see Andrew out there," Holiday said. "He's a workhorse. He was in the weight room before this. He's always getting treatment, always doing what he has to do to get back on the court. Obviously that's an inspiration."

Bynum's progress isn't something that is going to help this team right away, so Collins' focus is obviously elsewhere. In Saturday's win over Houston, which snapped a five-game losing streak, the coach said his team needed a "defensive identity" that didn't include a second of play from sub Nick Young, the first time this season he hasn't played when healthy. Instead, Collins went with better defenders, like Damien Wilkins and Royal Ivey.

"It wasn't anything that Nick did or did not do, I just felt we needed to get more of a defensive mindset and if you're going to talk about that you need to get two of your better defensive players out on the floor," Collins said. "Otherwise you're message is not going to be heard."

As it has been all season, the decisions will be game-to-game as to who is on the floor.

"We'll see. I'm not going to etch anything in stone," Collins said. "With our group we're just trying to find some sort of combination that we can put something together."


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: philly.com/Sixerville

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