By Rob Mahoney
If the NBA seems to be plagued by an uncommon number of injuries this season, it's likely that what you're actually recalling is an uncommon number of injury updates. Every player out for any extended stretch has been the subject of frequent reports with an updated timetable for return, as unnamed sources, coaches and the players themselves are questioned about recovery progress. It's a natural part of the interaction between media members and teams, but one that's grown to be particularly exaggerated with fans hungry for up-to-the-minute news regarding the status of their favorite players.
As a result, an absence turns into a saga. One can trace the reports as they wind and sometimes contradict, with setbacks and miscommunication occasionally resulting in some party jumping the gun on a player's assumed return date. Andrew Bogut's months-long delay is one apt example, but two currently sidelined stars -- Philadelphia's Andrew Bynum and Indiana's Danny Granger, both out with knee injuries -- provide more immediately pertinent cases.
For Bynum, an indefinite absence has spiraled into nonsense. He's perpetually "a week or two away" from returning to practice, to the point that some have wondered if Bynum will play at all this season in his first year with the Sixers. Bynum, per Jordan Raanan of NJ.com (via BDL), is convinced that he will:
"I'll definitely be back sometime this year," Bynum said while sporting an interesting new hairdo Tuesday following an 80-minute workout at PCOM.
The injured big man couldn't pinpoint an exact date. He believes playing 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 is "around the corner," participating in a full practice is maybe a week or two away. Still, it's looking like the return date has been pushed back into March, best-case scenario. But at least there is hope.
Maybe that's the case, but at this point we know better than to trust any Bynum-related report that's anything less than concrete. He'll return when the Sixers say he'll return, as every other targeted return date has come and gone without Bynum even doing one-on-one drilling. Granger's case is less ridiculous, though he's already had his scheduled return delayed because of illness, and now the Pacers have confirmed that he will sit out Wednesday's game against the Knicks. There's no reason yet to question the authenticity of that disclosure, but these last-second scratches have added an interesting wrinkle to Granger's lengthy absence. He's still due to make his season debut soon, and naturally his health and recovery are subject to how he feels on a day-to-day basis. But the shifting timeline of the reports has invited comparisons to the other drawn-out recoveries of players around the league (Bogut, Derrick Rose, etc.), if only due to the fact that estimating a player's return is a woefully inexact science.