April 19, 2014

Medina
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Brown mum on how much Bynum will play

Rick Noland

The Gazette

INDEPENDENCE — Now that center Andrew Bynum has played one game, the next step is to figure out how to use him going forward.

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown divulged virtually no information following a light practice Thursday afternoon at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

Brown said Bynum, who spent the day working with trainers, would take part in the team’s shootaround this morning in Charlotte and also work out prior to the game, after which it would be determined whether he would play tonight against the Bobcats.

The Cavs also play Saturday in Indiana, but Brown said he did not know if Bynum would appear in one game, both or neither. The coach also said he had not asked Bynum how he was feeling and had no concrete plans on how many minutes the center might play going forward.

“This is going to be an ongoing process,” Brown said Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena following a 98-94 season-opening victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Bynum, who had last played in an NBA game on May 21, 2012 for the Los Angeles Lakers, did not speak to the media Thursday.

After having surgery on both knees and missing all of last season for Philadelphia, he entered to a standing ovation with 3:40 left in the first quarter. The 7-foot, 285-pounder played the next 7:34, finishing with three points on 1-for-5 shooting, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

“The team is going to be very cautious; I’m going to be very cautious,” he said Wednesday at The Q. “We want to make (my health) continue to rise and get better.

“(The opener) was just a general base,” he added. “I felt really good and ran the fastest I have down the court.”

Bynum looked rusty offensively. He was blocked from the weak side on his first post move, missed a tip-in, air-balled a shot from the wing and had a nice-looking left-handed hook rim out.

The 26-year-old’s lone field goal came when he tipped in an air ball by Alonzo Gee. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw.

“My timing is off right now, but that’s to be expected,” Bynum said. “I feel like it’s going to come back, the more practice I have and the more time I play.”

Bynum’s massive presence was hard to miss defensively. He blocked a post move by Reggie Evans and came over to swat away a baseline runner by Nets point guard Deron Williams.

“He’s been working very diligently to get back to be able to play a game,” veteran Cavs guard Jarrett Jack said. “We were going to let him take his time. We knew there was enough swirling around him as far as speculation to play, and he hasn’t played in over a year.

“We were just kind of letting him take his time, let him settle in. We didn’t want to put pressure on top of pressure. I thought he came in and provided us a physical presence down low on the defensive end, as well as the offensive end. I thought it was a great first effort.”

Bynum won two championships and made one All-Star team with the Lakers, but he might never have smiled more than he did following his first-half stint with the Cavs.

“I wanted to play (Wednesday),” he said. “I wanted to get back and be with the guys.

“The crowd had a huge part to play in that,” he added. “When I got onto the court, that was a great ovation. It gave me energy.”

The 10th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft straight out of high school, Bynum had the best season of his career while playing for Brown with the Lakers in 2011-12, averaging 18.7 points and 11.1 rebounds.

“He’s a veteran that’s been through a lot of big games,” Brown said. “There’s not much that he has not seen. He doesn’t get easily rattled.”

Contract talk

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert met with the media prior to the opener and said the team wanted to sign point guard Kyrie Irving to a contract action at the end of the season.

Asked about that Thursday, Irving was gracious and complimentary of the organization, but stopped short of saying he would sign one.

“It’s still too early to be talking about that stuff, especially a contract extension,” the 21-year-old said. “We have a great relationship, me and Dan. I finally got out of calling him Mr. Gilbert.

“We’re building a culture here,” he added. “He told me I’m one of the guys at the forefront of that. We’re building an identity here and I want to be a part of that.”

Curly Neal?

The biggest basket in the opener was Anderson Varejao’s foul-line jumper that put the Cavs up 93-91 with 28.1 seconds to play. It came after Irving had dribbled all over the place at breakneck speed and, as he was falling down in the lane, flipped the ball back to a wide-open Varejao.

“Everybody’s making fun of me today,” Irving said. “They called me a Harlem Globetrotter.”

TV talk

The Cavs’ opener on Fox Sports Ohio received a 6.8 rating in Northeast Ohio, a 102 percent increase from the 2012 opener.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.