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Andrew Bynum Out 8-12 Weeks With Torn MCL

Feb 2, 2009 – 3:31 PM
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Brett Pollakoff

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The results of Andrew Bynum's MRI are in, and they're not great: it's being reported that Bynum has a torn MCL, and the preliminary estimate is that he'll be out somewhere between eight and 12 weeks.

Bynum was injured during the Lakers' win over the Grizzlies on Saturday, when Kobe Bryant fell backwards into him after attempting an off-balance drive midway through the first quarter. While the news certainly could have been worse, it's definitely still a pretty big blow to L.A., especially when you look at their upcoming schedule.

The Lakers' goal this season is to return to the NBA Finals, and to have home court advantage over their Eastern Conference opponent once they get there. With Bynum out for the next two to three months, it's extremely unlikely that they'll be able to accomplish the latter.

Besides the fact that there are three teams in the East who all have a legitimate shot to finish with a better mark than L.A., the Lakers will play 20 of their next 29 games on the road, including two next week at Boston and Cleveland. Even with Bynum in the fold it was going to be tough to out-pace teams like the Cavaliers, Magic, and Celtics; without him, it's going to be darn near impossible.

Let's not understate what Bynum has brought to his team, especially recently: he had averaged 26 points and almost 14 rebounds per game over his last five. And, his hard fouls on LeBron James and Gerald Wallace were beginning to establish an interior presence defensively that the Lakers haven't had since Shaquille O'Neal was patrolling the paint for them back in 2004.

Just to be crystal clear and spell out the obvious, eight-to-12 weeks translates into two-to-three months. The early estimate for Bynum's return brings us almost to the end of the regular season; the latest estimate takes us into the second round of the playoffs. There's no guarantee that Bynum makes it back at all this season, much less to the level he was playing at over the past five games.

The Lakers should plan on going into their playoff battles without Bynum. And if they don't feel they can win the whole thing as currently constructed, they might have to look at making a move or two to make sure that this season doesn't end the way it did last year.

Update: Bynum will not undergo surgery.

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