The 25-year-old participated in his first 5-on-5 scrimmage for the first time this season on Friday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. It is not known when he will fully practice with the team, and if or when he will see game action.
Citing sources, Bynum had been working out with team personnel, the Inquirer reported, but hadn’t truly tested the weakened knees that have plagued his career since the Los Angeles Lakers picked him No. 10 overall in 2005.
Bynum was suffering from bone bruises and “weakened cartilage” in his knees, and bizarrely re-aggravated his injuries with a night of bowling. Before the All-Star break, Bynum said he hoped to return some time in February, but reports also surfaced that injections in his knees that would have reduced pain did not have as strong an effect as he and the Sixers had hoped.
Philadelphia traded for Bynum last summer in the same deal that netted the Lakers Dwight Howard, and spared the 76ers the rest of Andre Igoudala’s expensive contract.
The Sixers are 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the East, with 30 games remaining this season. Having Bynum at half-strength could boost Phildelphia’s chances to not only make the postseason, but also gives them the most skilled big man in the conference to create matchup nightmares for the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
For his career, Bynum has averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds, and helped the Lakers capture back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and this could be his way to not only show the Sixers, but the rest of the league, that he is worthy of a maximum level contract.