No longer do the Lakers face the nagging question of whether Andrew Bynum can stay healthy.
It affected them for seven years as Bynum slowly but surely became an elite center. It left the training staff busily in finding ways to keep his creaky knees healthy. It left the Lakers’ coaching staff exercising caution so another incident wouldn’t occur.
That’s why the news that Bynum will sit out at least three weeks at the opening of Sixers training camp partly because of a bone bruise in his right knee sounded all too familiar. It also left Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol sharing mixed sentiments on whether the former Lakers center could ever stay healthy.
Bryant didn’t sound so concerned. Bynum went through all of last season without a major injury.
“I think he’ll be OK,” Bryant said. “It sounded more precautionary than anything. Being that he started in camp, I’m sure he started in camp in shape. I don’t think he’ll be missing much.”
Gasol also wished Bynum well and had hoped they could’ve reconnected when Bynum visited Germany this offseason for his knee procedure. But the Lakers forward was unsure whether Bynum will actually avoid major injuries as he managed to last season.
“We’ll see,” Gasol said. “His role is going to be different with his new team. Probably the pounding that he’s going to have to go through will also be higher. Let’s see how his body is able to manage that. I wish him the best and I wish him to have an amazing year. But it’s going to be different for him.”
The Lakers traded Bynum to Philadelphia in a four-team, 12-player deal that ultimately resulted in Dwight Howard’s acquisition. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak maintained the deal only correlated to Howard’s superior talent and that Bynum’s behavior and extensive injury history didn’t enter the picture. His participation in Tuesday’s practice in non-contact five-on-five drills left him optimistic he could play in some preseason games.
Meanwhile, Bynum has admitted since the trade that he wanted a bigger role than what would’ve been possible with the Lakers playing with Bryant and even Gasol. But that dynamic, Gasol argued, could make Bynum more vulnerable.
“Let’s see if his body holds up and he’s able to play through a whole year,” Gasol said. “That will be important. It was important last year for him to do that. But now with a different role with much more pounding, it will be different.
“More double teams and more touches mean more fatigue,” he continued. “With defense, if you’re the main guy, defense has to work extra hard to take that option away. You’re that first option they want to take away and let somebody else be the second or third option. It’s more pounding and physical fatigue. So we’ll see. It will be interesting.”
But it will no longer become the Lakers’ concern.
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