Andrew Bynum last took the court in May 2012. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)
The math always seems to add up fast for centers dealing with long-term injury issues.
Andrew Bynum hasn't played in an NBA game in 416 days. By the time opening night rolls around, that number will top 500. The lost potential earnings stacked up just as fast. Bynum, once seen as a max-type player, saw his value dwindle to a two-year deal laced with incentives and puffed up with a team option that includes just $6 million in guaranteed money. Poof, tens of millions of dollars gone, possibly forever.
After Bynum agreed to that contract with the Cavaliers this week, his agent admitted to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that one other number has gone up: his client's weight.
Since undergoing surgery on his knees in March, Bynum has gained about 15 pounds, Lee said.
Lee said he expects Bynum to be ready to play by the start of training camp -- even though he wouldn't permit his client to work out for teams.
"Actually, there was no reason to have him work out," Lee said. "His skill level's not in question, so there's no reason to work out. The reality is he has not picked up the ball in some time and he has to get his weight down. He's got to lose probably about 15 pounds, which is not a big deal. But to get on the floor you've got to reduce your weight, otherwise you risk injury."
Credit Lee's honesty, even if his "not a big deal" assessment isn't likely to fly with a majority of unbiased observers. At this point, Bynum is battling more than a year of health updates, non-updates, changing diagnoses and multiple surgeries that would leave even the most optimistic person afraid to touch the Kool-Aid.
Bynum, 25, last played for the Lakers during the 2011-12 season, averaging a career-high 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 60 appearances while earning his first All-Star nod. Traded to the 76ers in a 2012 four-team blockbuster trade that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers, Bynum never suited up in Philadelphia following a series of setbacks with both knees.
The bad news steadily trickled out for Bynum throughout the 2012-13 season. He sat out training camp and the preseason because of a bone bruise in his right knee. In November, Bynum told reporters that he had cartilage damage in his left knee, and later admitted that the “setback” happened while he was bowling. The Sixers had initially hoped he would return in December but eventually opted to list him as out indefinitely with bone bruises in both of his knees following that setback.
In January, Bynum was cleared to run and spoke about a return to the court after the All-Star Break. After participating in a 5-on-5 scrimmage in February, Bynum conceded on March 1 that he might not play this season because of swelling in his right knee. Season-ending surgery was then raised as a possibility in early March and he eventually underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees in mid-March.
The 2005 first-round pick holds career averages of 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The Cavaliers are hoping that Bynum can get back to stacking up numbers like that as soon as possible.