PHILADELPHIA: Andrew Bynum considered retirement last summer and still battles thoughts of giving up his NBA career because he doesn’t enjoy the game anymore, he admitted Thursday on his first day back in Philadelphia.
“It was a thought, it was a serious thought,” Bynum said regarding retirement. “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.”
Asked what his goal is for this season, Bynum said, “Just to be able to play without pain and discover the joy again.”
He is expected to face a hostile crowd at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday when he plays his first game in front of Sixers fans since the team acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers 18 months ago.
Knee problems forced him to miss all of last season and he said there were never any discussions about possibly returning to play for the Sixers this season. Instead, he signed with the Cavaliers and has spent the last four months trying to resuscitate his career.
He seemed pessimistic about his entire situation Thursday, complaining again of pain in his knees and frustration over not being the same player who made an All-Star team and won two titles with the Lakers.
“I’m a shell of myself on the court right now,” he said. “I’m struggling mentally. I’m trying.”
Bynum is averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in limited time. He only played about 14 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, a decrease from the 19 minutes he played Monday.
Cavs coach Mike Brown said he had to limit Bynum’s minutes Wednesday because he overextended him on Monday.
Brown said he hasn’t had any retirement talk with Bynum and still believes he can be an impact player in this league. He reiterated Thursday the long-term plan is to get Bynum into the starting lineup, although there’s no timetable for when that will happen.
“All I've felt is a lot of positive vibes,” Brown said. “He's been working his tail off, trying to help his teammates.”
Brown held a lengthy film session prior to practice Thursday and said Bynum was engaged and participated in the discussion by pointing out mistakes that were made.
“I believe he feels it's a process,” Brown said. “Just like anybody, at times you can be happy about it, you may be sad about it, you may be mad about it but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.”
This was the first time Bynum admitted he’s still considering retirement and it’s difficult to gauge how serious it is or if he was just having a bad day. Regardless, his lost mobility and the pain in his knees was clearly weighing on him Thursday.
“Battling pain is annoying,” he said. “I’m not able to do the things I used to be able to do and it’s frustrating.
“I feel like I can still be a double-double guy in this league, but it’s just going to take some modifications to my game and whether or not I want to accept the challenge and do that.”