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Injured 76ers center Bynum vows return this season

Injured 76ers center Bynum vows return this season

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Andrew Bynum's debut with the Philadelphia 76ers has been pushed back more times than the start of the NHL season.

Yet to even practice this season, the injured All-Star vowed to return from the bone bruises that have sidelined him.

``I'm confident I'll be on the court this season,'' he said Friday night.

When? Well, no one from Bynum to his doctor seem to know, even after an encouraging exam Thursday that will let the 7-foot center being a six-step rehabilitation process. Bynum can start low-impact exercises like riding a stationary bike as the first step of his rehab.

There is no date for a return. The All-Star center was acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade before the season.

``The bone bruises are healed and the swelling is gone, so those two things are great,'' Bynum said. ``We're just waiting for mechanical issues to be resolved, and that's going to take anywhere from a month to two. I have no idea, but we're going to work toward grinding it out so it's not causing me any problems.''

Bynum said his right knee feels fine and there's still some pain in his left knee.

The 25-year-old center is in the final year of his contract and could sign a five-year deal worth more than $100 million in the offseason, if he's healthy. But his uncertain status could be costing the All-Star millions.

``The doctors are taking their time because I want to play for another 10, 12 years, and not two,'' Bynum said. ``So I think the biggest thing here is to take our time and get it done right.''

He won two NBA titles in seven seasons with the Lakers. The Sixers were hoping he could help them become one of the league's elite teams.

Without a legitimate big man in the middle, the Sixers have stumbled, and lost five straight games heading into Friday's game against Atlanta.

``He's on the last year of his deal, he's got to get himself healthy to play,'' coach Doug Collins said. ``There's a lot at stake for him and the organization.''

Bynum announced in May, while still a member of the Lakers, that he was going to Germany in September for the Orthokine blood-spinning treatment in his knees that other professional athletes have sought. The Sixers announced before training camp that Bynum needed to delay his return to allow the effects of the Orthokine treatment to work.

The bone bruise in his right knee caused the Sixers to push the return date from training camp to the regular season. The Sixers said in early November the goal was for Bynum to resume ``normal basketball activity'' around Dec. 10. He would then need 1-to-4 weeks of conditioning and practice before he can play in his first game for the 76ers.

That plan was quickly scrapped after he injured his left knee bowling last month.

The exam on Thursday showed Bynum's weakened cartilage hasn't gotten worse. Bynum said the potential of surgery is off the table.

Sixers general manger Tony DiLeo said the best-case scenario all depended on how Bynum's knees reacted to the increased exercise.

``This is good news,'' DiLeo said. ``We can move ahead to the next phase of his rehab. This isn't something where the doctor says he has to rest.''

Bynum was coming off his best NBA season after averaging career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while making his first All-Star team, starting for the West. He was the NBA's third-leading rebounder and 20th-leading scorer, while also ranking sixth in the league with 1.93 blocked shots per game.

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Follow Dan Gelston at www.twitter.com/APGelston

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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USA TODAY Sports

GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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