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Matt Barnes indicating via Twitter that he's progressing well in rehab

January 21, 2011 | 12:37 pm


It's only been nine days since Lakers forward Matt Barnes began his rehabilitation surrounding his surgically repaired right knee, and he's already spending time Friday getting his stitches out before joining KCAL9's pregame show previewing the Lakers-Nuggets matchup.

It turns out it's possible his expected eight-week absence for suffering a lateral meniscus tear after landing off-balance while pursuing a rebound Jan. 7 against New Orleans won't be so long after all.

"Evrythings going really well," Barnes tweeted Tuesday in what marked his sixth day of rehab. "Can't put my finger on when exactly ill be back BUT I'm pretty sure i won't be out the full 8 weeks."

Don't etch him into the rotation anytime soon, however. Barnes' early optimism came with a qualifier.

"Mayb I stated that wrong," Barnes tweeted moments later. "ill b bak when I'm a %100 & I dnt think it'll take me 8weeks.. Im n great hands with Judy @ the Kerlan Jobe center."

Barnes emphasized that point to several fans, telling Ace32387, "no date just gotta be a 100" and to @Gsloyalty, "I really hv to make sure I'm ready. Dnt wanna return to soon & re injury myself.. Its a thin line between ready & 2 early."

Still, Barnes' tangible progress should be a welcoming sign for the Lakers, who have gone 6-2 in his absence and have missed his 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game off the bench through aggressive and efficient play.

Barnes' significant progress within the last nine days shouldn't be too surprising, considering he shared his initial optimism and determination about expediting the eight-week timetable after the first day of rehab where he measured the knee's flexibility and noticed the knee's swelling was fairly minimal. "That's what the plan is, but you know me, I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can to be back sooner," Barnes said, "but to make sure I'm healthy at the same time." Still it's compelling to read his Twitter feeds that detail how exactly he's making progress while staying mentally engaged, which includes a planned visit Monday afternoon to Mattel Children's Hospital, UCLA and continually studying the guard's role within the triangle offense.

After spending his second day improving the flexibility and keeping the swelling minimal, he watched the Lakers' 100-88 victory last week over New Jersey ("Good win 2nite starting to build some momentum," Barnes tweeted). His third day consisted of lifting weights, which made his knee healthy enough just to have a slight limp. Barnes' mood appeared positive, tweeting "its exciting to see progress each & everyday," before seeing a tattoo artist named Cartoon to get a tattoo on his stomach depicting his mom as an angel in honor of her passing away from cancer in 2007.

The only time Barnes decided not to document his progress via Twitter came in his fifth day of rehab (almost has full flexibility, but needs to get swelling down more) after the Lakers' suffered a 99-92 loss Sunday to the Clippers, an effort that left him "disappointed." That included the ejections issued to Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Baron Davis and Blake Griffin. "That ejection was terrible," Barnes tweeted to @GenerousHandful. "But 1 thing laker fans should kno is Ron & I will #NEVER get the benefit of the doubt w/refs."

A day later, however, was when Barnes predicted his rehab could finish before the eight-week timetable. But for now, the Lakers still had to play without him. Instead of traveling with the team for a two-game trip against Dallas and Denver, Barnes spent his seventh day performing body-weight squats, biking and working on a shuttle and reported no pain or swelling (no word, however, on whether Barnes ran on a treadmill).

Usually the following day after extensive activity proves most revealing since that provides adequate time for the body to respond. But Barnes described the eighth day as the "most productive" because he wasn't limited with any exercise and reported no swelling or soreness in his knee. If only that productivity carried over the previous night in the Lakers' 109-100 loss to the Mavericks ("Lastnite.. We'll bounce back 2maro nite.. Gotta play better team D & cut down on our TO's") But with that session proving good enough for Barnes to remove his stitches Friday morning, it won't be long until he's watching the games firsthand instead of from a studio set. 

"Who would have ever thought u could luv rehab??" Barnes tweeted. "GET RITE."

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers forward Matt Barnes reacts after falling to the court and injuring his right knee on Friday night in a game against New Orleans. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press