If and when Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum plays this season, Jalen Rose feels the Sixers, who are a playoff team without him, could go to the next level. Of course, Bynum hasn’t played or practiced since the Sixers got him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer.
Bynum has been recovering from a bone bruise in his right knee. He also injured his left knee bowling. The Sixers big man is expected to have his knees examined on Dec. 20. Nevertheless, Rose, an NBA analyst for ESPN, feels Bynum could make them a strong contender in the playoffs when and if he debuts as a Sixer.
“Doug Collins (Sixers head coach) has done a terrific job with that team. Who would have thought they would be a couple games above .500 while the Lakers and their roster are a couple games below,” Rose said. “I think once they get Andrew Bynum back and he’s healthy and playing at a high level and gets back on the floor, I look at the Philadelphia 76ers with the development of Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday and the bigs (big men) they have to play around Bynum.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they have what it takes to advance to the playoffs. The Miami Heat are the favorites obviously to win the East. The New York Knicks have put themselves in that conversation. [With] Indiana, you still have to see what happens with (Danny) Granger, and the (Brooklyn) Nets, you have to see if they’re going to stay healthy. So all the time I felt Philadelphia was in the mix with that second tier.”
Bynum, 25, hasn’t played a game since last May. The 7-foot, 285-pounder, averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game last season. He’s an NBA all-star who has helped the Lakers win two NBA championships. Rose envisions a slight adjustment period for Bynum in terms of getting into playing shape.
“The conditioning may not be there initially,” Rose said. “That probably will take two to four weeks. But as far as getting him on that left block and allowing him to operate and be a 20-point scorer, I think that will come initially as soon as he gets backs out on the floor.”
In regard to when Bynum will play, it’s not clear. It appears that Bynum and the Sixers should know a lot more about his knee injuries in the coming weeks. Bynum is in the last year of his contract and reportedly could sign a five-year deal for more than $100 million after this season.
“Well, he basically said recently he’s going to know something between and around the first of the year when he feels like he’s going to come back,” Rose said. “He seems eager to come back, the sooner the better. We all know he’s in a contract year. He wants to play at a high level. I mean for his future it will be a great time for him to come out and be an anchor for what Philadelphia is trying to build since they’re starting to build the roster around him.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.