The 76ers and Andrew Bynum say the center has taken a positive step following a full examination of his knees by orthopedic surgeon David Altchek in New York on Thursday.

Yet, like the previous updates on Bynum, there is no timetable for his return.

Before Friday's game with the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo gave an update on Bynum, who has bone bruises on both knees, with a degenerative condition in the cartilage for both. He hasn't played since being acquired as part of a four-team trade in August.

"His knees are healing. He is improving," DiLeo said. "He has been able to increase his activity level."

DiLeo said Bynum would follow a six-step process toward his recovery. The first will be riding a stationary bicycle. The final phase will be getting back to the court.

One month, two months, this season? Neither DiLeo nor Bynum would give a specific time because nobody knows.

"The doctors are taking their time because I want to play 10 to 12 more years, not two," Bynum said before the game. "The biggest thing is to take our time and get it right."

Bynum said he expects to play this season.

"I am confident I will be on the court this year," Bynum said.

Bynum says that he doesn't have pain in his right knee and that it has subsided, but isn't gone, in the left knee.

Still, he wasn't sugarcoating the situation, attempting to be as realistic as possible.

"I consider this a baby step," he said of the news. "I still have kind of an issue with the knee, but we all want that to resolve itself without surgery, and that's a really good possibility."

DiLeo said an MRI exam showed that the bone bruises in both knees are healing and that the weakened cartilage is subsiding.

"Both knees are improving but not totally healed yet," DiLeo said.

Bynum emphasized that this is not a career-ending situation, but nobody can say for sure whether he plays this season.

Bynum is a free agent after this year.

"I am sure this is demoralizing for him," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "More importantly, he is on the last year of his deal and has to get healthy and play. There is a lot at stake for him and our organization."

In the end, not knowing when or if he will be back, Bynum put a realistic spin on the news.

"The news is good, but I still have a ways to go to get back," Bynum said.

Moultrie to NBDL

The Sixers have assigned rookie forward Arnett Moultrie to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Skyforce.

Moultrie, the 27th overall pick acquired in a draft-night trade from Miami, has appeared in 11 games for the Sixers, playing a total of 61 minutes.

"It doesn't do any good flying around the country and staying in hotels and getting per diem," Collins said. "He has to play."

Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.