When the Cleveland Cavaliers inked Andrew Bynum to a two-year, $24 million deal, his camp made a lot of noise and promised a bounce-back season.
Things haven’t quite worked out that way.
Bynum has been slow out of the gates, and doubts that he’ll ever be the same player again. The 26-year old big fella, increasingly frustrated with his oft-injured knees, says he’s seriously considering walking away from the game altogether.
Per the Plain Dealer:
Meeting with reporters in Pennsylvania for the first time after missing all of last season with the Sixers because of knee problems, Bynum said he felt as if he is a shell of himself on the court right now. He said he considered retirement after last season and still thinks about it occasionally even after signing a two-year, incentive-laden $24-million contract with the Cavs last summer. “I’m struggling mentally,” he said quietly after practice at Temple University. “I’m trying.” Asked what his goal is, Bynum said, “Just to be able to play without pain and discover the joy again. … Right now it’s just battling pain is annoying. I’m not able to do the things I used to be able to do and it’s frustrating.’
Bynum, who had surgery on both knees last March, has played four games, averaging 5.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 12.8 minutes a game. He’s shooting just 28 percent (7 of 25) and has had a number of his shots blocked. After looking better in each of his first three games, he seemed to take a step back in the loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday, finishing with four points and four rebounds in 14:19. “I still feel sharp pains,” he said, “like after my dunk [in Milwaukee]. After that I went down from there. Still quite a ways to go. At the moment, it’s tough to enjoy the game because of how limited I am physically. I’m still sort of working through that.”
Bynum expects to suit up tonight and play in front of Philadelphia Sixers fans for the first time since missing all of last season. The discouraged center says that he doesn’t care about what kind of reception he gets.
Talk of retirement may be premature, or simply the built up frustration of a once-dominant player who can no longer play up to his own standards. Then again, Andrew Bynum doesn’t exactly sound hopeful about what his basketball future holds:
“I think I’m out of rehab phase, but I missed 567 days or something like that. Still can’t jump, slide or anything. I’m just going out and trying to play. … My health is my concern. My knees are my knees. They’re not going to get better, they are what they are. That’s really it.”