INDIANAPOLIS – From the minute he walked off the practice court till he was done with his interviews and headed back to the locker room, he never once let go of a basketball.
Andrew Bynum held it in his hands near his chest, spinning it a couple of times even as he answered questions from reporters for the first time as a member of the Pacers on Friday morning following the team’s shoot around.
“The first time around went well,” said Bynum. “The system is good, I play through the bigs and it’s just a great fit. A good opportunity to win.”
Bynum talked a few times during his five-minute media session about the Pacers being a good spot for him because of his ability to play behind Roy Hibbert and along side Ian Mahinmi.
“It’s a winning atmosphere,” said Bynum of the Pacers. “Obviously winning is a great elixir, it cures all. It’s a great opportunity for me backing up Roy. Obviously I want to play.”
When he will play it’s still be determined, according to the center, as the team will continue to evaluate him over the coming days. Head coach Frank Vogel put the timetable at a few weeks as to when Bynum could step on the floor and contribute.
“Well come back from the All-Star break and see how practices go over the next week or two after that before we start deciding if he’s ready,” said Vogel of Bynum. “We want him to be comfortable.”
At the same time the Pacers want him to fit in, which some had concern after the end of his career in Cleveland. Bynum played off and on for the Cavaliers before being suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team and eventually traded to the Bulls, whom immediately released him.
That’s a part of Bynum’s sometimes up-and-down seven-year career which began with six seasons with the Lakers where he earned an All-Star nod but also dealt with knee problems that would lead to his trading to the Sixers in 2012 and his sitting out for an entire season.
With a new start in Indianapolis, Bynum tries to put what others think of him out of his mind.
“People have opinions, I don’t respond to it. I just go out and play,” said Bynum.
Stephenson won’t play against the Blazers
Lance Stephenson’s back bruise suffered in Tuesday’s win over Atlanta will keep him on the sidelines for Friday night’s game against the Trail Blazers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Vogel confirmed on Friday morning.
The guard was able to shoot around on Thursday at practice but didn’t participate in drills or scrimmages. Stephenson remains “Day-to-Day” according to Vogel.
Veteran Danny Granger will start in his place against Portland.
Paul George in the slam dunk contest again
Once again, the NBA Slam Dunk contest will truly be a contest of the stars. Paul George is a big reason for that.
The forward was asked and agreed to participate in this year’s slam dunk contest on February 15th in New Orleans in conjunction with the league’s All-Star game-which George is a starter. He is one of three All-Stars in the game-the most to participate in the competition since 1988.
“It’s a move that should have been done. Get some superstar power back into the dunk contest,” said George. I think I owed it to my fans. Give them another run, another show, another opportunity to have fun at the All-Star weekend.”
George will also be apart of the first dunk contest to feature teams divided up into conferences. He is the captain of the Eastern Conference which includes the Wizards’ John Wall and Raptors’ Terrance Ross.
“I think it’s cool. It’s different,” said George of the conference format. “Something fun. Just added something new to it.”
George Addresses Paternity Report
While also celebrating his second appearance in the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest, he also had to address rumors that came out of Miami this week.
According to a report in TMZ.com, a Miami woman is claiming that George is the father of her unborn child. For the first time, George addressed the story after Friday’s shoot around.
“If and when there is any legal confirmation that I’m the father, I embrace it, I’ll step up to it,” said George of the report. “Still being sorted out or what not.”