“Soon … a couple days,” he said of his timetable. “I got a good 30 minutes in today, and hopefully we get a little bit of time in Saturday before we leave, and I should be ready.”
Phil Jackson wasn’t willing to go quite so far.
“I’m watching Matt and I’ll talk to him tomorrow about it,” said Jackson. “We’re still saying, ‘Let’s be patient,’ we’re not in dire need. We haven’t had a lot of practice time to go on his performance level. He needs to have a practice with the team and full fledged activity.”
Barnes hopes that Saturday will be that full practice day, though the Lakers will be coming off Friday night’s game against the Clippers and prepping to leave for a Sunday game at Oklahoma City, which sometimes results in limited practice sessions. As such, we should be surprised if the team holds Barnes out for another few days, even if he’s desperate to get on the court.
“I think I need to be out there more than they need me out there,” Barnes acknowledged. “It’s been a while, man, and we started off the last home stretch well and I just want to get back in and do anything I can to help the team win.”
Barnes originally suffered a tear of the lateral meniscus of his right knee in the first half of L.A.’s Jan. 7 victory over New Orleans. He underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus on Jan. 13, after which the team provided an eight-week estimation for recovery.
Barnes, however, was determined from the start to beat that time, and is currently at only six weeks.
“We appreciate his intensity and wanting to come back,” said Jackson. “Without a doubt, he wants to be back and he wants to help us.”