Despite a growing belief among 76ers fans that Andrew Bynum, in the last year of his contract, may never play for the team, Bynum does not see that happening.

"No, it never crossed my mind," said Bynum, seated in front of his locker stall Monday before the Sixers faced Detroit. "It is obviously a possibility, but it really depends on what my doctor tells me. If my left knee gets better and starts to feel like my right knee, I'll be playing."

Bynum is scheduled to see his personal orthopedist, David W. Altchek, on Dec. 20 as he recovers from bone bruises and weakened cartilage in both knees. The center has not practiced or played for the Sixers since they acquired him in August.

For Bynum and the Sixers, the next appointment is crucial.

"Worst-case scenario, it's another month," Bynum said. "Best-case scenario, I can ramp it up."

For now, Bynum does not feel that playing is worth the risk.

"If these were the finals and it could be about me helping this team, then I'm going to play, because that is serious time," he said. "You want to be a part of that. But I don't think right now would be a good time to risk anything. Why risk it when you have time to come back and be 100 percent?"

Bynum said that his right knee, the one that forced him out of training camp, "feels much better and the swelling is down." He said his left knee is more problematic right now.

He addressed his situation Monday for the first time since last month, when the Sixers said they were no longer attaching a time line to his return.

The Sixers are following Bynum's lead on his recovery, allowing the player to tell them when he feels he will be ready to return to basketball activities. He is restricted to swimming, avoiding any stress on his knees.

"Athletes are super-impatient," he said. "To be impatient in this situation would be to my detriment, so I wouldn't do that.

"As far as the threshold of pain, it's more about protecting and being cautious about my knees. I feel this pain walking around, so I think it would silly to do anything basketball-related because right now that's sure going to make it get worse. So until it heals up, being cautious and taking time to heal is the thing."