Phil Jackson estimates Andrew Bynum will return to practice by the end of next week
With Lakers center Andrew Bynum continuing his rehabilitation on his surgically repaired right knee, Coach Phil Jackson estimated that he will return to full practice by the end of next week.
"He's running hard," Jackson said of Bynum, whose rehab process has partly entailed running on an anti-gravity treadmill. "It looks like he's about ready to do 100% load-bearing activity, which we think puts him on the court at the end of next week."
The Lakers' expectation that Bynum will practice in what Jackson calls "basketball-related drills," coincides with Bynum's estimation, shared Oct. 17 to The Times' Mike Bresnahan, that he would start practicing in two to three weeks. That's when Bynum was cleared to participate in non-basketball-related activities after missing the first part of training camp because of off-season surgery. Jackson, whose 5-0 team plays Friday at Staples Center against Toronto, has said he expected Bynum to begin playing somewhere around Thanksgiving.
He specifically cited Bynum's size, shot-blocking abilities and presence in the lane as areas that will help the Lakers' defense, which has allowed at least 100 points to opponents in four of their five regular-season games.
Bynum's return will lead to Lakers forward Lamar Odom reassuming his sixth-man role, despite recording three double-doubles and appearing in top condition.
"One of those problems is obviously Lamar going back to the bench and coming off the bench," Jackson said. "But the thing is those guys will split minutes somewhere in the 30-range, which really gives them a sense of being able to rest and play and not wear themselves in the game of basketball in this 82-game season. I think it's best for the team. Being a team player that [Odom] is, he understands that."
In other news, Jackson said Lakers forward Luke Walton won't play in a game until he gets through what's called a "hard practice." With Lakers are coming off a back-to-back, ending with a game Wednesday at Sacramento, the team didn't go through a full practice. They had a team meeting, players received treatment and reserves Steve Blake, Shannon Brown, Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks worked on individual shooting drills. Walton went through various rubber-band exercises and running drills with Lakers physical therapist Alex McKechnie.
-- Mark Medina
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