Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum will miss eight to 12 weeks after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Bynum was hurt in the first quarter of Saturday night's win at
Memphis. Kobe Bryant drove to the basket, missed the shot and
crashed into Bynum's right leg. Bynum immediately grabbed his knee.
Bynum is the Lakers' third-leading scorer and second-leading
rebounder, averaging 14.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
The 7-0, 285-pound Bynum's injury brought back bad memories of
last season for the Lakers. He went down in mid-January and was
expected to be sidelined 8 to 12 weeks after bruising a bone in his
knee and briefly dislocating his kneecap.
Instead, he missed the final 46 games of the season, as the
Lakers lost in the NBA finals. He underwent arthroscopic surgery
May 21 to remove cartilage debris and smooth some rough spots on
the underside of his kneecap.
"This is a team that went to the finals last year that we put
on the floor, so they're confident in what they can do," coach
Phil Jackson said at the Lakers' shootaround Monday afternoon,
before they announced the severity of the injury. "We know we're
going to miss his presence, his rebounding ability. But this is a
very capable team."
The injury came as the 21-year-old seemed to be taking a major
step forward in his fourth NBA season. In the five games before he
was hurt, he was averaging 26.2 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.2
blocks and shooting 65.3 percent from the field.
"It changes our team, and the rhythm that we're playing with,"
Bryant said at the shootaround. "Obviously we found a great rhythm
there with him in the lineup, particularly the last week or so. So
we're going to have to make some adjustments."
Bryant insisted the Lakers could still win a title without
"There are teams that lost in the finals that go back and win
the next year," he said. "I think having Andrew in the lineup
makes us a dominant team. With him out of the lineup, we're still a
great team. You put him in the mix, it takes us to another level."