By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: The year away from basketball changed Andrew Bynum. He already admitted a few weeks ago it has made him work harder, now he’s conceding it has made him a different player.
The explosiveness he once enjoyed with the Los Angeles Lakers is gone, and there’s a good chance no amount of rehab will bring it back.
“I don’t think it’s going to come back,” he said Monday prior to the Cavs’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “It makes you have to rely more on footwork and skills versus athleticism.”
Bynum was expected to play in both the first and second half against the Timberwolves, the next step in his lengthy rehab process. Until now, Bynum has been limited to one appearance in games. When he subbed out, he was done for the night.
As of now, it takes him a couple of days to recover from games, which is why he isn’t likely to appear in both nights of a back-to-back anytime soon. Coach Mike Brown wouldn’t commit to that for the entire season, but it’s clear the Cavs are going slow with Bynum.
“I missed the entire year last year and that’s for a reason,” he said. “I have skill, I have talent. I just need to get my timing back.”
His impressive spin move down the lane Friday at Charlotte is a prime example. Bynum still had the ability to get to the basket, but he was unable to finish.
Bynum said he’s still having “little sharp pains here and there, but nothing too bad.” He has played more than 65 games just once in his career, so it’s unrealistic to think his knee issues are completely over. Whether or not he can maintain them enough to remain on the court most of this season remains to be seen.
“Only time will tell,” he said.
Brown said he has told Anthony Bennett to just relax, but he wants the rookie to keep shooting 3-pointers with confidence when he’s open. Bennett began the night 0 for 12 shooting to start his career, then missed his only two attempts in the first half Monday to run his drought to 14 consecutive misses.
“He’s probably putting more pressure on himself than we are as a coaching staff and his teammates are,” Brown said. “He’s the No. 1 pick in the draft, he should put pressure on himself. He should want to go out there and succeed for himself and his family, the organization and city. He’s a talented player. We all saw glimpses of it in the preseason. In time it’ll come, it’ll show that it’s there.”
Tristan Thompson continues to demonstrate terrific range in practice, consistently making 3-pointers in shooting contests with other players and off on his own. But Thompson isn’t ready to start shooting 3s in games.
It does stand to question, however, when Thompson will start getting plays run for him. To this point, the majority of his points come off dunks and rebounds and putbacks.
“I’m not worried about that,” Thompson said. “The pick-and-roll is basically a play for me because if they’re going to double team Kyrie, then it’s an opportunity for me. I guess you would call the pick-and-roll my play.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.