Bynum Still ‘Weeks Away,' Pacers View Him As Hibbert Clone
The Indiana Pacers signed Andrew Bynum on Feb. 1, but he hasn't appeared in any of their 13 games since.
Bynum hasn’t played since Dec. 26 when he was still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and missed all of last season due to knee issues. The Pacers weren’t scared off by Bynum’s extensive medical history, but have been very careful with his health.
The term "weeks" was used when Bynum was first signed. It was then expected that he’d sit out until after the All-Star break. On Saturday night, Frank Vogel pushed back his Indiana debut even further.
"A few weeks," Vogel said when asked about Bynum. “We're not putting a firm timetable on it. Our trainers are doing some things to strengthen the area around his knees so when he becomes an everyday player, he’ll be there for us. The soreness he’s experienced in the last couple years is minimal and while we are doing that there is the process of getting him back in game shape because he had weeks off after leaving Cleveland.”
Ian Mahinmi is currently the backup for Roy Hibbert, but Bynum will overtake that role if all goes according to plan. Vogel made it clear that Bynum will have to fit into what the Pacers try to do instead of the other way around.
“We've got a plan and a scheme on both ends of the court with Roy Hibbert that fits his style of play,” Vogel said. "Once he gets healthy and in great condition, I think the transition is going to be fairly seamless. He’s going to fit in and we’ll use him the same way we use Roy.”
It helps that Bynum has been able to watch Hibbert live, in games and practice, over the last few weeks.
"They practice against each other and then do low post one-on-one drills," Vogel said of the two centers.
Indiana knew the process would be a slow one when they signed Bynum and they conveyed their plans to him right away.
"We knew he was going to be a ways away," Vogel said. "We told him when we signed him that we would be sure not to rush him in there. We knew it was going to take some time because he’d been off for so long. We knew it was going to be a process.”
The Pacers are hoping the low-risk signing will pay dividends down the road, especially in the postseason should they meet up with the Miami Heat. When asked about what makes this Indiana team different than the one that came within 48 minutes of the NBA Finals last June, Vogel pointed to a bench that stands to improve even more when Bynum is finally ready.
"I think we have a better bench. Not only Evan Turner, but Luis Scola and C.J. Watson have given us a huge lift this season. Ian Mahinmi has been playing at a much higher level this year than he was last year. We haven’t seen Bynum yet. We haven’t really seen much from Chris Copeland yet," Vogel said. "The depth is, I think, much better than it was last year."