There are, admittedly, a few things I don't know about the intricate machinations of time, but I'm quite certain about this: Projecting a return from an Andrew Bynum injury is the time/space equivalent of cat herding, particularly when the source of any information is Andrew Bynum. As we've noted multiple times over the last few seasons, Drew is notorious for, well, just kind of saying stuff, often appearing more definitive than he ought.
So last week, when Bynum said he hoped to be practicing by Thanksgiving and playing again before Christmas, I noted it's best not to run out and start marking up the desk calendar. So it should come as no surprise that Monday in El Segundo, ironically a day he was wearing his game uniform to film some clips for the Staples scoreboard video screens, Bynum adjusted his most recent timetable once again. He'll undergo an MRI exam Tuesday to make sure everything is still healing nicely, but should that MRI come out clean, as expected, he won't just leap back on the practice court. There are still steps in between.
"No, I'll start jumping. I haven't done any jumping yet. Then I'll start doing more lateral stuff. Get off the straight plane and start cutting and things like that. Maybe a week, a week or two of that, and then practice," he said. I asked if he was still expecting to kick off his practice season on turkey day. "No, probably the week after that."
Or maybe not, perhaps maybe so. Obviously there are no guarantees. When Bynum is on the floor practicing, you'll know he's good for practice. When he dresses for a game, you'll know he's ready for that (though I wouldn't count on that Dec. 10 date Phil Jackson floated last week). Player and team are, rightly, taking a very conservative approach. "At the end of the day, I'm going to have to be healthy for the long term. My career is still young," he said. "and I want to be able to play as many years as possible." He expressed concern a premature return would only raise his chances of getting hurt again.
"I don't want to go out too early, and then have to start all over again."
Given what has happened to Greg Oden in Portland, I can't blame him for being concerned. "That's the biggest knock on me, is not being able to play," he said. "It's an unfortunate situation, especially for him. He hasn't even been able to play at all. I look at [his problems], but it doesn't wear on me. I know my situation, and I know where I'm at. I know where the doctors tell me I'm at, so I'm pretty comfortable."
From a practical standpoint, not much changes for the Lakers, though if Bynum's return were to stretch out an extra week or two, it increases the likelihood of the team adding another big to the roster. Jackson said Sunday he expected some sort of resolution to the question this week.
I'm wondering if there's a workaround for the whole jumping thing. I noted how Ron Artest has managed to make it through the last season-plus without actually being able to jump, either. Bynum laughed. "I just need to make sure I can jump. That's the thing. He can get there when he wants."
Oh well. It was an idea.
More from Bynum, first on his choice not to have surgery during last season:
On his rehab and healing process: