The long-anticipated appearance of Andrew Bynum in a 76ers uniform may not occur until January, according to the team, which addressed his status on Monday.
As Bynum continues to recover from a bone bruise in his right knee, the team is cautiously hoping for his debut between the third week of December and the middle of January.
Acquired by the Sixers in a four-team deal in August, Bynum has yet to practice with the team because of concerns about his knees.
Before Monday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Bynum addressed the bone bruise and attempted to allay fears that the injury might be worse than believed. He also addressed the idea that the bone bruise might be the result of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
"I think that proved the theory that that season caused a lot of guys some issues," Bynum said. "But I made it through and I feel pretty confident that this isn't a serious problem. Obviously I'm missing games, but I think I'll make a full recovery and come back."
The 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum was an all-star last season with the Los Angeles Lakers after averaging 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks, has not appeared in an NBA game since May 23. He is in the last year of his contract and can become an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season.
"The one thing that I hope our fans know is that Andrew wants to play," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "He wants to play but he also understands that if he takes all this time right now and misses a step along the way and he goes backward, it's not going to be any good for anybody."
Bynum, 25, said there has always been an eight-to-12-week time frame for his return to the court.
"It's not a setback," Bynum said. "The original plan, the first time I went to my doctor, he was talking eight to 12 weeks - about a three-month time period. I am getting better each day. But that was the original plan all the time."
Bynum underwent an MRI exam on Nov. 5. David W. Altchek, Bynum's longtime orthopedist, said the player can resume low-impact exercise for the next two weeks, followed by a three-week period of conditioning on an antigravity treadmill.
If there are no setbacks, the Sixers hope Bynum will be able to resume normal basketball activity by mid-December at the earliest.
Bynum said he suffered the bone bruise in Los Angeles during an offseason workout.
He was initially ruled out of training camp, and the Sixers hoped that he would be able to play in the season opener on Oct. 31. He received injections of Synvisc-One, a lubricant to treat arthritis, in both knees on Oct. 22.
After it was determined that he would not be available for the start of the regular season, the Sixers said Bynum would be out indefinitely.
In a statement released earlier in the day, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo made it clear that the Sixers will continue to proceed cautiously with Bynum.
"We know that Sixers fans are eager to see Andrew Bynum play and shine in a 76ers uniform," 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."