Andrew Bynum wants to return to the court within three weeks
This goal isn't based on any medical assessment from the training staff, but Bynum hopes his participation in Saturday's practice will help him take that next step in returning to the court. If he gets his wish, Bynum would play at some point during the week of Dec. 19-25, which includes a road game at Toronto (Dec. 19) and home games against Milwaukee (Dec. 21) and Miami (Dec. 25).
"That's just me," said Bynum, who went through a pregame workout before the Lakers' game Friday against Utah. "The training staff and other people may see things differently. I don't have a target. I just want to be back within three weeks. That's my personal goal."
The Lakers have never provided specific timetables during Bynum's rehabilitation for his surgically repaired right knee, but Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has shared various estimations, including the possibility Bynum would return by Thanksgiving and Dec. 10 for the Lakers' game at Chicago. Jackson wasn't specific after Saturday's practice at the team's facility in El Segundo, saying, "Everybody would like to see him play tomorrow. But that's not going to happen."
In fact, Jackson withheld assessing how Bynum performed in practice, saying he responded well but wants to see how his body reacts tomorrow. Bynum's practice work included some contact drills involving rebounding, games of one on one against backup center Derrick Caracter, running exercises, shooting free throws and performing various exercises involving the handling of the basketball with Lakers physical therapist Alex McKechnie.
"I feel a little pinch every now and again," said Bynum, who had an MRI exam Tuesday that revealed the off-season surgery has gone well and cleared him to jump and dunk. "That's just what it is and where it's at. So it doesn't get any worse, I'm taking my time, getting both legs strong and my upper body strong and my wind back. I'm not rushing. I'm trying to keep my myself in that mind-set in not wanting to get back too quickly and hurt myself.
"They're not trying to rush it," he added of the Lakers' training staff. "I want to get back more than they want me back at this point because they want me to be healthy."
Bynum said his next goal entails participating in three-on-three drills and improving his conditioning, which he said "will come." Bynum also reported that he hasn't felt any swelling around his knee.
"The progression has been right on time," Bynum said. "Perfect every time. The true test is a game and after you play a game. I'm not at that point yet. Hopefully in three weeks, I'll be there."
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Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum blocks a shot by Suns center Robin Lopez in the playoffs last spring. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times