Grasping a basketball, the largest Indiana Pacers player sits down on a chair next to the team’s practice court.
Teammates are charging up and down the floor, but Andrew Bynum, moving the ball to his massive right palm, slowly mimics his shooting form.
A break in the action means the 7-foot backup center can finally let fly the long-range shot he’s waited to release.
In Bynum’s defense, he was a good 25 feet beyond his rim-punishing comfort zone. And still sitting down.
The Pacers weren’t envisioning Bynum playing the role of frustrated spectator when on Feb. 1 they signed the free agent and his suspect knees for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.
Unfortunately, that’s been his role.
In the 23 games Indiana has played since the signing, Bynum has played in two.
He didn’t make the trip to New York for Wednesday night’s game against the Knicks because of swelling in his right knee and was listed as doubtful as the Pacers prepared for tonight’s date with Chicago at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Bynum has impressed in his few moments in the spotlight: eight points and 10 rebounds in his Pacers’ debut, a 94-83 home victory against Boston on
March 11; and 15 points and nine boards in a 112-104 win at Detroit on Saturday.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel knew the day Bynum was signed the risk-reward potential he presented.
The ideal backup to starting center Roy Hibbert when his knees are up to it, Bynum is playing for his third franchise since the outset of the 2012-13 season.
“This one is a little concerning for me,” said Bynum, who had his knee drained before Monday’s game against Philadelphia. “It’s not fun. But it is what it is at this point.”
No one questions Bynum’s productivity when available. With 14 regular-season games remaining, it’s a matter of when and for how long for a franchise thirsting for its first NBA title.
Like a talented pitcher saddled with arm issues, Bynum finds himself basketball’s poster boy for wait and see.
Regardless whether the Pacers are the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 or 2 seed, Bynum’s presence — or lack thereof — will be big.
“It’s not really disappointing at all, to be honest. We knew he was going to be in and out of the lineup,” Vogel said. “Andrew’s got some problems with his knees. We’re well aware of that, and we’ll be excited about what he can give us when he’s in there.”