Report: Bynum could return before regular season ends

Updated: March 20, 2008, 3:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Andrew Bynum might be back before the playoffs after all.

Andrew Bynum

Bynum

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who on Tuesday said Bynum would not be ready to play until the playoffs begin, said Wednesday that the center could return as early as two weeks before the start of the first round, The Los Angeles Times reported.

"I threw that out there [Tuesday] to kind of take everything off the table," Jackson said, according to The Times. "We're [now] saying it was three weeks as of [last] Sunday. It would give him a week -- four games, three games."

Bynum has been out since Jan. 13, when he dislocated his left kneecap and bruised a bone landing on a teammate's foot while going for a rebound. The Lakers haven't been more specific about his recovery than saying he would be out for at least eight weeks.

But Jackson warned on Wednesday that Bynum will have to get back into game shape, having missed more than two months of playing time.

"The reality is if he comes back and he plays the Sunday game and the Tuesday game before the season's over [on Wednesday, April 16], great. It's still not going to get our rotation [settled]," he said, according to The Times. "It's going to be an exercise in kind of getting him back on the court."

Jackson also said Pau Gasol, who has been out with a sprained ankle, is on his way back to health.

"He's come around and he was actually on the court [Wednesday] shooting jumpers a little bit," Jackson said, according to the report.

In his third season, Bynum is averaging 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.06 blocked shots. He was leading the NBA in field goal percentage (63.6 percent) and was among the best in rebounds and blocks when he got hurt.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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