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Derrick Caracter practicing with Lakers

January 21, 2012 |  4:49 pm

This hardly ranks among the top pressing items concerning the Lakers.

That involves their inconsistent offense, poor road record and fatigue-riddled roster. But after rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee for the last 39 days, Lakers forward Derrick Caracter said he participated in non-contact drills during Saturday's practice. He said that's marking the second time he had done so in the past week, including last Tuesday's practice.

The Lakers don't have a timetable on when he'll be cleared for full practices. Nor have they said definitively when he'll return to the lineup. But the Lakers initially expected him to be sidelined between four and six weeks after he had surgery on Dec. 14, making it possible he could return Wednesday when the Lakers host the Clippers.

"I feel good," Caracter said after participating in drills involving two on two, defensive concepts and shooting. "I'm ready to go."

Caracter, who suffered the injury in the fourth day of training camp on Dec. 12, played a pretty modest role last season, averaging only two points in 5.2 minutes per game in 41 contests. Still, his absence only further put the Lakers' frontcourt depth in flux.

Center Andrew Bynum faced a four-game suspension because of his forearm shove against Dallas guard Jose Barea in last season's playoffs. The Lakers also traded Lamar Odom and a second-round draft pick to the Dallas Mavericks for a first-round pick and a $8.9-million trade exception. And they acquired free agents Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy shortly after Caracter's surgery.

Caracter stayed busy during his rehab maintaining leg strength by running on an anti-gravity treadmill and performing stability exercises. He also said he made sure to eliminate any frustrated feelings about his injury.

"Staying positive, believing," Caracter said about how he handled his injury. "Everything happens for a reason. When I come back here, I'll be ready to perform and handle my business."

What that business will exactly entail remains unclear, both because of his standing on the Lakers' depth chart and for his refusal to share his goals.

"I know my expectations, but I'm not going to put it all out there," Caracter said. "People always fashion shoot down another man's dreams. I have expectations for myself."


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--Mark Medina

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