Lakers – Knicks Pregame/Bynum Chatter

Even with a potentially exciting, high-tempo contest looming in New York City as the Lakers get set to play in “The World’s Most Famous Arena” for the only time this season, it’s hard to focus on anything that doesn’t have the letters M, C or L capitalized and featured prominently.

After a bit of a time lag since Andrew Bynum went down in the first quarter of L.A.’s Saturday night win over Memphis, we learned that Bynum tore the MCL in his right knee, and is expected to be out 8-to-12 weeks. If that schedule holds up, eight weeks leaves two weeks of regular season play in the regular season, while 12 weeks is roughly two weeks into the NBA playoffs.

The funny thing is, the person who feels best about the situation is Bynum himself; we learned as much while speaking to him courtside about an hour before tipoff. In fact, since Lakers.com’s Ty Nowell is here with us on the trip, that video will be available shortly. ***UPDATE: The video is above but here’s the link***

Until then, let’s think about this: What does Bynum’s injury mean for L.A.’s potential title aspirations? Well … maybe nothing. First of all, he’s expected to be back for, if not before, the playoffs. Secondly, the Lakers made it to last year’s NBA Finals without Bynum or Trevor Ariza, and with barely any meaningful playoff experience for many players. Sure, the situation with Bynum is similar to what happened last season in terms of city (Memphis), body part (knee) and time (January), but the injury is entirely different (last season’s was a subluxed patella). So, while nothing is guaranteed, it does appear that we haven’t seen the last of ‘Drew in 2009.

Again, the talent isn’t lacking: there are guys named Kobe and Pau, a thirsty Lamar Odom looking forward to big minutes, talents like Ariza, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar, and even capable bigs Josh Powell and Chris Mihm. Bryant, who couldn’t have been more upset when the injury occurred, still has complete confidence in his squad: “Without (Bynum) in the lineup, we’re still a great team,” he said.

The question now is how Phil Jackson plans to tweak the rotation. Does he just go back to last year’s mix, plus Ariza? At least for this game, Odom is starting, and Gasol sliding to the center position. Even so, there are other variable we could see as well:

A) Vladimir Radmanovic playing power forward
B) Josh Powell seeing a big increase in minutes
C) Chris Mihm seeing a big increase in minutes
D) Powell and Mihm seeing increased minutes depending on matchups

We’ll see how that plays out tonight, and certainly keep track throughout the next eight (to twelve) weeks.