The Lakers continue to wait patiently for Andrew Bynum. Sort of patiently.
The injured Lakers center raised a few eyebrows Saturday when he said he wouldn’t be back for three more weeks, a proclamation that didn’t exactly enthrall Coach Phil Jackson.
“We had hoped that it would be three weeks about three weeks ago,” Jackson said Sunday before detailing the months-long wait for Bynum’s return from knee surgery last July.
“This [surgery] is something that was supposed to take place after the season and he was supposed to be ready by the season, and we built our team around that fact. Well, everything got delayed,” Jackson said. “His operation wasn’t done on time, Andrew was late to his operation, there was a whole myriad of things that have gone on in this thing.
“But the type of operation he has is a very unique operation. It’s not just a simple operation, so that changed the complexity of all this.”
Bynum had cartilage in his right knee repaired, not removed, a move that added time to his recovery period but could conceivably be better for the knee in the long run.
Still, Jackson seemed concerned that the Lakers wouldn’t know how strong Bynum would be when he did finally return.
“We still haven’t seen whether it’s going to be a total success or not,” Jackson said. “He still is struggling to get back. Right now, our team’s got to go forward and play without him. These guys are ready and willing to do that. I just have to monitor some minutes out there a little bit better.”
Pau Gasol has averaged 39 minutes a game and Lamar Odom has averaged 35 minutes a game, but the Lakers are leaning against adding a veteran big man in part because it would cost $70,000 a week in salary and luxury-tax considerations.
“It’s just not in the cards,” Jackson said, though that was before the Lakers’ 95-92 loss Sunday to Indiana, a game in which Jackson said Gasol looked tired while scoring 13 points on five-for-15 shooting in 45 minutes.
The Lakers are especially short-handed these days because reserve center Theo Ratliff is out at least two to four more weeks after undergoing knee surgery of his own.
Despite Bynum’s layoff, Jackson said the 23-year-old would get back his starting role because he would need to get on the court immediately after going through pregame exercises for the knee.
“He would almost have to start,” Jackson said.
Bynum has missed 113 regular-season games since the start of the 2007-08 season. He averaged 15 points and 8.3 rebounds last season.