NBA AM: Bynum Just Trying To Get Healthy
Trying To Get Healthy: Philadelphia 76ers big man Andrew Bynum is still months away from seeing meaningful court time. The 76ers issued a statement stating that December 10 would be his target date to return to court work and that meaningful playing time would come after several weeks of conditioning and practice, putting his likely debut sometime in late December or early January.
Bynum talked with reporters yesterday and tried to clear up what’s going on with his knee, and admitted that if the Sixers were in a playoff hunt, he is healthy enough to go. This is about being proactive and cautious with what he is calling a bruised knee.
“That was the main problem in the original MRI, and it still is,” Bynum said of his bruised knee. “It’s healing. The pain from that is going down. It’s better than when it started, but it’s not quite there yet, it’s not where I want it to be.”
“Phase 2 of the rehab process is gonna start next week and that will tell me a lot. “
Bynum said up to this point he has been doing low impact training and rehab consisting of a lot of pool work, elliptical and bike type training.
Bynum said his uncertain contract situation is not weighing into his rehab, and that he is simply listening to the people who are trying to help him get back to 100 percent.
“I listen to the doctors and the team on this stuff,” Bynum said. “The caliber of player I am is not going to go anywhere. Health is the main concern. Listening to the doctors and coaches and being cautious.
“It wouldn’t be any different,” Bynum said regarding his contract situation. “I think this is the way I need to handle it. As far as getting better, like I said I am getting better slowly day by day.”
Bynum said the process and the results have been tough, especially given how much he wants to prove himself to his teammates and his new city.
“It’s been a rollercoaster for me,” Bynum said. “Mentally, it’s tough. I want to get out there and play. It’s just a rollercoaster. Obviously missing games is not good. I want to be out there. I want to be playing with my teammates.”
Bynum admitted that if the team were in a playoff situation, he’d be ready to contribute.
“I believe so. I think in a situation like that, all the marbles are there,” Bynum said. “I have been through this in the past. I played in the Boston series in the Finals and actually in the Orlando series as well. I came back off of injury and played in the playoffs. That’s more about the hunt for a championship, to get a ring; you want to win those.”
Bynum also pointed to all the miles he logged during last season’s 66-game condensed schedule as part of the problem.
“It proves the theory that, that season really did cause some guys a lot of issues, with a condensed season,” Bynum said with a smile. “I made it through it and feel pretty confident that this isn’t a serious problem. Obviously I am missing games, but I think I can make a full recovery and come back. “
The Sixers are 4-3 so far on the season without Bynum and are getting solid play from Spencer Hawes, who is holding down the fort until Bynum’s return. Hawes isn’t nearly the impact player Bynum can be, but the Sixers are staying up the .500 waterline, which is good enough for fifth place in the East as of today.
How far the 76ers can ultimately go will depend on when Bynum can get back into the lineup and stay healthy. That’s one of the key reasons the 76ers are taking this process so slowly.
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Phil Thought He Had The Job: According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought he had the Lakers job sewn up, so much so he reached out to his former assistants and started to talk about re-assembling the staff, including former Lakers great Kurt Rambis.
“They had told Phil that it was his job (in a Saturday interview), that he was their first choice, and they agreed to wait until Monday — today — to allow him time to digest whether or not he felt he was, in fact, the right coach to come and coach this team,” Rambis told USA TODAY Sports. “And, in fact, his agent (Todd Musburger) flew into town — he’s here from Chicago — to start negotiations. So Phil had made his mind up that he wanted to coach this team. Somewhere between Saturday afternoon, when Phil and I had a conversation, and Sunday night, the Laker organization made a complete 180-degree turn.”
Rambis also disputed that Jackson’s so-called demands weighed on in the Lakers’ decision to go with former New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni.
“No money was discussed,” said Rambis. “All of these things that are out there about partial ownership, and lack of travel, and no practice time — all of that stuff is categorically false. None of those conversations ever happened. Ever. It was about whether or not he wanted to come and coach the team.”
Jackson issued a statement to the press about the process and says he was told of the D’Antoni hiring by phone after meeting for almost two hours the day before.
Saturday morning, Jim Buss, called to ask if he could come and visit. I did not solicit or ask for the opportunity, but I welcomed both he and Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as the head coach. We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a hand shake and an understanding that I would have until Monday (today) to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight on Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a 3-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker Fans who endorsed my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.
The Lakers are expected to formally introduce D’Antoni in the next couple of days, as D’Antoni has yet to be cleared to travel after undergoing a knee replacement procedure several weeks ago.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak did address the hiring, telling reporters that the team felt D’Antoni was the best fit given the personnel on the roster.
“After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr.Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward,” Kupchak said. “Knowing his style of play and given the current make-up of our roster, we feel Mike is a great fit, are excited to have him as our next head coach and hope he will help our team reach its full potential.”
One of the telling comments coming out of the Lakers’ practice yesterday was how much the team wants to be up-tempo and how much the team wants to install a system that works for all of the players they have on the roster. There was a sense that D’Antoni’s style would create the offensive looks to keep the Lakers’ big four engaged and happy statistically and shot wise and that an up-tempo, potent offense was the key to a championship.
Lakers’ big man Dwight Howard said he was not at all worried about the defensive side of the game, pointing to his Lakers teammates that thrive on defense like Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant and himself. Howard also acknowledged that most of the Lakers’ younger bench core are scrappy defenders in practice, so having a defensive focus is already part of the team’s fabric.
The Lakers are 3-4 on season after two straight wins with interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff guiding the ship. The Lakers face the 6-1 San Antonio Spurs tonight at Staples Center and could have D’Antoni in tow before facing the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
It’s unclear how much travel D’Antoni is going to be able to do until December as he recovers from his knee surgery and word is that D’Antoni has already reached out to a number of high profile coaches to join his staff including former Portland head coach Nate McMillan, who could join the team as a defensive coordinator. McMillan and D’Antoni worked together in a similar capacity for Team USA.
The Lakers have another week at home before heading out on a three-game, four-day road trip to Sacramento, Portland and Dallas. The Lakers finish the month with three more home games and a six-day stretch in L.A.
In RELATED: USA Today’s Sam Amick talked after Lakers’ practice yesterday about why the Lakers chose Mike D’Antoni and what they expect from D’Antoni and this Lakers roster going forward.
The Key To The Whole Thing: Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez missed most of last season to a broken foot. His name was kicked around as trade bait and it seemed his time with the Nets would inevitability be tied to the Orlando Magic’s deal with Dwight Howard. Orlando passed on a deal with Brooklyn, Lopez in turn signed a $62 million contract with the Nets and is finally healthy and contributing again, something he had his doubts about along the way.
“I’m just happy to be here and playing with the guys,” Lopez told HOOPSWORLD. “I definitely got to take a step back and watch the game for a change. I think what it made me realize the most was how much I really enjoy playing. I love the game, I didn’t want to take it for granted anymore.”
Lopez is as quiet and unassuming as anyone in the NBA, but much of the Nets’ hopes for a deep playoff run or eventual championship rest on his very broad shoulders.
As good as a point guard Deron Williams can be and as potent a scorer as Joe Johnson can be, Lopez’s ability to change the game from the paint is a huge piece of the puzzle for the Nets.
“I definitely expect a lot out of myself,” Lopez said. “It’s nice with this group. We can definitely rely on each other; we have each other’s backs.”
“I definitely want to be the best at my position, no question, but I want to be the best player I can for my team and help out in any way I can,” Lopez said. “It’s just a matter of seeing what they need me to do and going out there and doing it. “
So far on the season, Lopez is averaging 16.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while blocking two shots per contest. Considering how much time he missed and how stacked the Brooklyn roster is, those are strong numbers for Lopez.
If the Nets are going to achieve their goals this season, Lopez being strong and consistent will be a big part of that. He says he is ready for the challenge and like most in the Nets locker room, he’s thrilled to be playing for something this season.
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