By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s hard to tell whether Andrew Bynum doesn’t quite know what to say anymore, or whether he doesn’t quite know what’s going on with his body. Either way, the Sixers center sent mixed signals when he spoke to the press on Monday.

“I started to do basketball work. I worked for two days on the court, and then I had a lot of pain, so we backed down a little bit today,” Bynum said. Regardless of the injury or timetable, the words “a lot of pain,” generally don’t correlate with anything positive. “Probably just get back on the court tomorrow, and just progress, as much as we can.”

Bynum was cautiously predicting a return around the NBA All-Star break, which happens at the end of this week. “I’m not sure [whether that will still happen], it’s all going to depend on whether we get a setback or not,” he said. Again, one would guess that “a lot of pain,” would be a setback.

Then comes the “mixed signals” part.

“Right now, I think things are going well,” he said. “Losing weight and staying on the court as long as I can.”

But what about the pain?

“It limits me from continuing to go. I was on the court for two hours yesterday, so that’s pretty good. You know, we’ll keep going, with clips like that, and I should be back soon,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s normal soreness, or if I’m going to play with it. It’s not anything that I haven’t felt. It’s not new, and it continues to kind of, go away over time.”

It continues to “kind of go away over time,” or as he said before, reappear recently.

“It’s all good stuff,” Bynum said. All good stuff, except for the pain, and the fact that he might not come back when he said he would.

I think there comes a point where a player, coach, whatever, just doesn’t know what to say anymore. Doesn’t know how to answer the same questions, especially when he doesn’t have the answer people want.

But as the Sixers season devolves into, well, whatever it’s devolved into, figuring out whether this guy is worth keeping is of the utmost importance. Forget making the playoffs, the Sixers need to know what they’re doing next season.

The Sixers will have a very difficult decision on their hands when it comes to Bynum. They’re not just betting on whether he can become the best player on a championship team (or even an NBA playoff team), they’re betting on whether he can actually be healthy enough to do it. If they bet “yes” on both, it could be a very costly mistake.

Hopefully their thought process is a little bit more clear than the answers Bynum is giving.

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