It was the end of the Lakers’ practice Saturday, and there was center Andrew Bynum working with a medicine ball at the far end of the court.
He wore a brace on his surgically repaired right knee while doing the exercises, in which Bynum alternated between facing the wall and having his back to the wall, his body rolling up and down on the medicine ball under the watchful eyes of Alex McKechnie, the Lakers’ athletic performance coordinator.
Bynum, who is at least a week away from practicing and perhaps two weeks away from playing, has been missed mostly because of the heavy minutes Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have had to play in his absence.
Still, no one wants Bynum to rush back until he is 100% healthy.
“Hopefully he’ll heal fast,” Gasol said. “But obviously it’s bad to rush back from an injury, [because] you could rehurt yourself and be out longer, and I know that now. I don’t want him to rush. I want him to get healthy. Whenever that is, we’ll be all happy about it. Probably one of the first ones will be me.”
Bynum shot some at practice Saturday.
Coach Phil Jackson said Bynum could be on the court with the Lakers in about one week, after the Lakers return from a three-game trip to Milwaukee, Detroit and Minnesota.
“After that week, maybe he’ll be out there to do some of the warmup and some of the activity drills to start,” Jackson said.
Bynum has not talked to the media in recent weeks, but his teammates know he wants to help the Lakers.
“I guess he’s eager to play and can’t wait to be out there,” Gasol said. “But I’m sure he’s also concerned about his knees and what he’s been through in his young career. So he has to be cautious about it and can’t overlook his situation and just play whenever you’re ready to play.”
Jackson said Gasol “has played a tremendous amount of minutes” and “Lamar has to.”
Gasol is averaging 38.4 minutes per game, most on the team.
Odom, who didn’t do much at practice because of a sore right foot — he had a stimulant device connected to it after practice — is averaging 33.3 minutes per game, second most on the team.
With backup center Theo Ratliff, who was inactive against the Denver Nuggets, nursing a sore left knee, Gasol and Odom have had to play a lot.
“It’s not ideal, I don’t think at this point in the year,” Gasol said. “But it is what it is under the circumstances that we’re in.”
Unlike the victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, which left the Lakers unhappy with how they played and led to thorough study of the game video by players and coaches, the Lakers moved on after their loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.
The Lakers are looking ahead to playing the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night at Staples Center and not at what happened in Denver.
“That game is gone,” said Ron Artest, who turned 31 on Saturday. “Even in a playoff game, those games are gone too. So definitely a regular-season game is behind me.”