PHILADELPHIA -- Saying Andrew Bynum's knees "are not the same" as when they traded for him in August, the Philadelphia 76ers are now not sure when Bynum will be able to play for them -- if he plays for them at all.
Two weeks after the team announced they hoped Bynum would be cleared to return to practice on Dec. 10, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said Saturday the team no longer has any timeline for Bynum to return.
"Bottom line is Andrew is out indefinitely," DiLeo said before the Sixers played the Oklahoma City Thunder. "There are no timelines; we just have to wait and see how he reacts."
Bynum has bone bruises in both knees and is dealing with what his doctors call a "weakened cartilage state." He is believed to have done some additional damage by bowling two weeks ago.
DiLeo said the state of Bynum's knees has worsened since the team traded for him and it's changed the team's risk outlook.
"His knees now and the MRIs are not the same; it's a different type (of) situation," DiLeo said. "At the time of the trade, we had four doctors look at his MRI; we knew it was a calculated risk. We also knew we were getting the second-best center in the league, a franchise-type player. We took that risk."
Bynum is still doing low-impact rehab and the team is hoping that rest will heal the cartilage. DiLeo said the team is consulting experts around the world and examining Bynum's rehab closely. There will be no more bowling, and DiLeo said Bynum has been instructed to avoid any activity that could cause stress on the knees.
"(The bowling injury) is an unfortunate situation; when the cartilage is in a weakened state anything can happen," DiLeo said. "Basically, you can't do anything that is going to jeopardize any kind of rehab."
Neither the Sixers nor Bynum have talked about a surgical option to repair the cartilage, a move that could knock Bynum out for a year. Last week, Bynum said: "There's no surgical procedures that will really help or are safe to do at the moment. I've just got to bide my time."
Bynum is in the final year of his contract that pays him $16.5 million. The Sixers traded All-Star Andre Iguodala, young prospects Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic and a future first-round pick to get Bynum and veteran guard Jason Richardson. They had hoped to sign him to a long-term contract next summer.
DiLeo said the team is still hoping Bynum will heal but admits it is already having to look at other scenarios.
"We hope he will back; we're anticipating he will be back at some point," DiLeo said. "We have plans for the future if he is not back with us but we want to plan on him being here long-term."