The way Phil Jackson sees it, Andrew Bynum is one more knee injury away from being on Yao Ming status. Mike Bresnahan detailed PJ’s diatribe on Bynum’s health in the Times today.
Needless to say, Jackson has some serious concerns about Bynum’s future.
“We’re hopeful that this is the time he’s able to start playing consistently through a season. If not, we’re going to have to look at Andrew as a short-minute guy, somebody like Yao Ming who’s going to be limited in the amount of minutes he plays.”
“If his knee doesn’t hold up after having this process, then we’ll have to think about what kind of minutes he can play in a career. This would be a [fourth] consecutive year that things didn’t go well. We’re concerned. That’s why we’re giving this extra time, or the doctors asked for extra time for this to heal, so when this heals, his career can go forward instead of having these stops in the middle of the season.”
Such is the life of an NBA big man. The list of all-time great big men is equaled only by the number of could-have-been-great big men that saw their careers either cut short or drastically changed due to injury.
All Drew has to do is holler across the locker room at Luke Walton and ask him about what his pops went through. Bill Walton’s bum feet didn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame but they sure did reduce his role in the NBA.
If Phil’s premonition comes to fruition then Laker fans worldwide have reason for serious concern.
To begin, given the amount of cash the franchise has committed to Young Drew, it stands to reason that the Lakers will be in cap room hell for the foreseeable future if they’re going to build around a part-time player.
Secondly, there is no way a team can have success deep into the post season if their best post player is only giving them 24 minutes a night.
Now, we’re talking about a place in time that resides somewhere in the future. Only Doc Brown knows what this franchise will look like once Kobe Bryant has hung up his sneakers. For now, not having Bynum play big minutes is not as much of a concern.
Sure, we’d love to see the Altered Beast playing a healthy 35 minutes a night but the Lake Show has proven they are still capable of hanging banners with a part-time Bynum or without Drew’s services all together.
With regards to the future though, it is troublesome to think of what this will mean if Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol are continuously asked to play extended minutes during the regular season. Unlike many NBA teams, the Lakers are routinely playing well into June. All those playoff games can take their toll and neither Odom nor Pau are getting any younger.
Perhaps what is most disconcerting of all is just how many injuries Bynum has sustained relative to how little basketball he has truly played in his life. At a young 22 years-of-age, Bynum still has plenty of years ahead of him. However, given the fact that Bynum barely played any hoops in high school, didn’t attend college and in five years of pro ball he’s only played in 278 games, it sets off all kinds of alarms about how durable he truly is.
Not all is lost though. Bynum is no Greg Oden nor is he Yao Ming at this point either. While Jackson’s concerns are real he could also be up to his usual motivational scare tactics perhaps hoping to light a fire under Andrew.
If Phil’s words were meant to frighten Bynum then either the effect didn’t work or Drew is playing it off.
“I think everything will be all right,” Bynum said Wednesday. “I just need to be healthy. I need to get back playing and hooping with the team and having some dominant games.”