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Bynum's practice return pushed back

Image: Andrew Bynum of the Philadelphia 76ers (© Howard Smith/US Presswire)
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PHILADELPHIA (AP)

Andrew Bynum's debut with the Philadelphia 76ers may not come until 2013.

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Bynum, Philadelphia's 7-foot center, will miss at least five more weeks because of a bone bruise in his right knee and could be held out until early January.

When Bynum was hurt in mid-September, the team initially hoped its newly-acquired star would be ready for the season opener Oct. 31. Late last month, though, the Sixers said he was out indefinitely.

Philadelphia said Monday that the new goal was for Bynum to resume ''normal basketball activity'' around Dec. 10. He would then need one to four weeks of conditioning and practice before he can play in his first game for the 76ers.

''It's better than when it started, it's just not quite there yet,'' he said. ''It's not where I want it to be.''

Bynum was allowed to start low-impact exercise after an MRI last week and he did everything from swimming to biking to stay in shape.

The Sixers acquired Bynum from the Lakers in a four-team deal that saw them ship Andre Iguodala to Denver, but he has yet to even practice with them this season.

''We know that Sixers fans are eager to see Andrew Bynum play and shine in a 76ers uniform,'' Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said. ''We also know that no one is more eager to see Andrew play for the Sixers than Andrew himself. He fully realizes the key contribution he can make to the team. Hopefully, that day is coming soon.''

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Bynum, 25, is in the final year of his contact and could sign a five-year deal worth more than $100 million in the offseason, if he's healthy.

Bynum said his uncertain contract status was not playing a role in the decision to rest until he's ready to go out and dominate. However, Bynum said he could play through the bone bruise had the Sixers been in a playoff series.

''As far as getting better, I think this is the way I need to handle it,'' he said. ''It's tough. I want to get out there, I want to play. It's just a roller coaster. Obviously, missing games is not good. I want to be out there, I want to be there with my teammates.''

Without Bynum, the Sixers took a three-game winning streak into Monday's game against Milwaukee.

Bynum has already had surgery on both knees. In September, he went to Germany for injections of plasma-rich platelets that supposedly stimulate healing in arthritis-affected areas in both of his knees.

Bynum won two NBA titles in seven seasons with the Lakers and called their coaching carousel ''crazy.'' The Lakers fired Mike Brown five games into the season, flirted with Phil Jackson and then hired former New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni late Sunday night.

''It's tough,'' Bynum said. ''You've got that caliber team, it's a shame what happened. I think he'll be back around.''

Tagged: Nuggets, Lakers, 76ers, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bynum

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