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The Times' Mike Bresnahan reports Andrew Bynum cleared for non-basketball activities

October 18, 2010 |  6:34 pm

56579062Laker fans should feel a little more at ease.

Center Andrew Bynum told The Times' Mike Bresnahan late Sunday night that he's made enough progress with his surgically repaired right knee to get cleared for non-basketball activities.

"I can start running next week, and then maybe start practicing in two to three weeks," Bynum told Bresnahan. "But the important thing is the doctor cleared me." Bynum then told Bresnahan his hope is that he'll play in a competitive game by late November.

Certainly Lakers fans will embrace this new development, considering the controversy surrounding his off-season surgery on his right knee, the uncertain timetable and the Lakers' sluggishness during the preseason. There will surely be new developments, particularly once he starts playing.

But there's a few things to consider. First, don't set your expectations to a specific timetable. The language Bynum outlined to Bresnahan is very conservative in that he definitely will start running next week and then possibly practice two to three weeks afterward. The progress that he makes once he begins his non-basketball workouts will surely determine when he'll begin to practice and, subsequently, when he'll play in a game.

Although there's been new developments since then, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson expressed similar sentiments after Bynum went through a personal workout, including exercises Friday with Lakers physical therapist Alex McKenchie.

"It's going to take him awhile before he's on the court with us," Jackson said at the time. "We hope it's within a week or two he's on the court with us. It doesn't mean he'll do a full practice, but he can do some of the things."

Second, the Lakers should still operate as if they'll play without Bynum for an extended period of time. That doesn't mean I have reason to believe Bynum will experience more set-backs. But just considering the unpredictable timetables involving all his injuries and the fact he'll miss at least a month of the season, it'd be beneficial for the Lakers to still go about their business.

That means Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest should be ready to handle the load. The Lakers have already made steps in doing that with Jackson prodding Gasol into taking more charge of the team in case Bynum's gone and Kobe Bryant's still rehabilitating his knee. Odom and Artest have surely looked the best this preseason, with Odom showing his experience in the 2010 FIBA World Championships kept him in game shape and Artest demonstrating that his slimmed-down 245-pound frame makes him more mobile. The two also lead the Lakers in field-goal percentage, with Odom and Artest shooting 53.3% and 48.9%, respectively. They each should still psychologically feel like they need to make those big contributions.

But with all that said, Bynum's revelation to Bresnahan surely provides a dose of good news with a litte more than a week before the season opener.

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum, shown before Game 1 of the NBA Finals in June, had knee surgery in July and is expected back sometime between mid-November and December. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.