Mihm to have surgery on right heel

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Lakers center Chris Mihm will undergo surgery on his right heel and sit out about four to six weeks.

Mihm's right ankle has been surgically repaired twice, and he has been sidelined since Dec. 23 because of bursitis in his right heel and a sore Achilles' tendon in his right foot.

He felt persistent pain, underwent three weekly sonar-wave treatments and took part in individual workouts with team trainers but often felt sore the next day.

The team, and Mihm, thought surgery was the best option now, with the hope he could return as a backup later in the season. Mihm had been with the Lakers on their nine-game trip but left Monday to return to Los Angeles and was expected to have surgery this week.

"We wanted to give Chris a shot to have an opportunity during this time and through the All-Star break to come back perhaps, but it looks like it's going to be a little bit longer for that," Coach Phil Jackson said.

Mihm is averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19 games this season. He had an 11-point, seven-rebound effort Dec. 4 against Minnesota but played only three games after that.

Mihm, 28, sat out last season while recovering from reconstructive ankle surgery. He has one year left on his contract.

In a related move, the Lakers signed center DJ Mbenga on Mondayfor the rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expired.

Mbenga, who is averaging two points and 2.2 rebounds in nine games with the Lakers, will make about $167,000 the rest of the season.

NBA teams must either sever ties with or sign a player the rest of the way after a second 10-day contract expires.

Mbenga was with Golden State earlier this season after spending three seasons with Dallas.

"He fits in well," Jackson said. "He's still a prospect. I think we have to take the 'DJ' nickname away, because that was given by Mark Cuban and so that's got [ Dallas] Mavericks stuff on it."

Mbenga's given name is Didier Ilunga-Mbenga.

Forward-center Ronny Turiaf limped off the court after suffering a sprained left ankle in the final seconds of the second quarter Monday against Charlotte, but he returned in the second half.

He finished with 10 points in 14 minutes.

"My foot's kind of killing me right now," he said. "But it'll be OK."

Jackson was talking with reporters after Monday's game when he turned his head and casually said, "Hey, MJ."

Indeed, Michael Jordan was walking down the hallway outside the visitors' locker room at Bobcats Arena.

Jackson and Jordan met a few minutes later for a short time in an area next to the locker room. Jordan is part-owner of the Bobcats.

Andrew Bynum signed a marketing contract with the William Morris Agency, joining Yao Ming, Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade as the agency's other NBA clients.

"We look forward to exploring opportunities that capitalize upon his appeal across all areas of entertainment," WMA Chairman Jim Wiatt said in a statement.

Bynum is recovering from a knee injury that will keep him out of action at least four more weeks.


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