Cavs’ Andrew Bynum plays five-on-five, not ruled out for season opener
The Cavaliers have been playing their cards close to the vest, but it appears Andrew Bynum is nearing his return to the court.
According to Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Bynum took part in the Cavaliers’ practice on Sunday and even played some full-court five-on-five, signaling the big man could be ready to play after missing all of last season with the 76ers.
Mike Brown said Bynum, who signed a two-year, $24 million deal this offseason, has yet to be cleared by the medical staff to play in a game or participate in a full practice, but the coach isn’t ruling out the team’s new center playing in the Cavaliers’ season opener on Wednesday against the Nets.
“I’m not even speculating that,” Brown said Sunday. “What I’m waiting for is the doctors to say he can play. If the doctors say he can play, that’s when I’ll make a decision as to whether or not to play him. But the doctors have not cleared him to play yet.”
The Cavaliers have been cautious not to discuss a timetable for Bynum’s return or put any significant expectations on him this preseason. The former Laker and 76er underwent bilateral arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees in March and hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since May 2012.
Cleveland can afford to be patient with Bynum, thanks to its plethora of big men, including Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller (who missed the preseason with injuries), Tristan Thompson and No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett. But the return of Bynum would be a huge boon. During Bynum’s most recent season, in 2011-12, the 7-foot-1, 285-pound center averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, numbers the rest of the Cavs’ big men aren’t capable of producing.
Plagued by injuries throughout his career, Bynum has played all 82 games only once (2006-07). His presence could help Cleveland make a run at a playoff spot this season, but only if he is able to stay on the court for a prolonged period of time.