“I think (Ratliff) had a conversation with Dr. (James) Andrews in Alabama,” said Jackson. “We talked a little bit about it before we left (on the current trip). Based on that conversation, we decided that he should stay behind and start over on rehab, basically.”
Jackson mentioned that Ratliff had one “minor set back” that became an irritant to his knee, and more diagnostics resulted. In short, the Lakers are not expecting Ratliff on the court any time soon.
“We have to monitor it very closely if he’s going to play at all,” Jackson concluded.
The Lakers are getting a bit healthier at the onset of a week containing only two games, as Theo Ratliff and Matt Barnes made respective progress with their injured knees on Sunday.
Ratliff, who hasn’t played since early November due to arthroscopic knee surgery, participated fully in practice.
Barnes, who also had minor knee surgery, had a chance to shoot the ball for the first time since going under the knife, though he’s still a few weeks away from playing.
Phil Jackson, meanwhile, said he’s pleased to have only Tuesday’s contest vs. Utah and Friday’s against Sacramento on the weekly docket as it allows the coaching staff to hammer home some different elements in practice.
After a few months of rehabilitation on his left knee, Theo Ratliff is expected to return to practice on Jan. 23 and 24, following the team’s two-game road trip to Dallas and Denver on Jan. 19 and 21.
Ratliff, who participated in conditioning drills on Thursday that included full sprints, has not played in a game since Nov. 9, after which he had arthroscopic surgery on his sore left knee (Nov. 16). He said he feels better, is looking forward to returning to practice and ultimately contributing where he knows he can.
“I know I was brought in here to be that support big off the bench, come in and clog that middle up, go out and not make mistakes and control the defensive end,” Ratliff said. “That’s always been my mindset.”
With a Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back against the Bucks and Pistons on the horizon, the Lakers had some injury questions as Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff underwent respective MRI’s on Monday morning, and Steve Blake had missed Sunday evening’s loss against Phoenix with a stomach virus.
L.A. got good news relating to Odom, as the MRI on a sore right foot came back negative. The MRI did confirm what Phil Jackson had previously described as a “bone bruise,” but the lanky lefty can play on it and will stay in the starting lineup against Milwaukee.
Blake is also expected to play in Wisconsin, as he was feeling better and did make the trip with the team.
The news is not so good in Ratliff’s case, however, as the 37-year-old center will have arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday morning in hopes of discerning the problem with his sore left knee. Lakers spokesman John Black said that the team would provide an update after the surgery.
***UPDATE: Ratliff had successful surgery and will miss at least 4-6 weeks. You can find the details by clicking here.
The largest of L.A.’s three recent free agent additions to the team, 15-year veteran big man Theo Ratliff, portrayed his excitement to be joining a two-time defending champion during his introductory press conference on Friday.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “To have the opportunity to come to a franchise like this – it will be my 16th league in the league – and to be wanted by a team that has won a championship two seasons in a row is a great feeling.”
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was similarly happy with bringing Ratliff in.
“Theo has long been considered to be one of the best defensive big men in the league,” said Kupchak. “He is a consummate professional and a welcome addition to our team. Together with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and Artest, he gives us a formidable and deep front line.”
Below are the highlights of Ratliff’s presser:
- Ratliff on what he hopes to bring to LA: “I definitely want to come in and do everything possible that I need to do to help continue this legacy. My role doesn’t change, every team I’m on, I’m noted for being a defensive stopper. Plugging that middle, rebounding and being a tenacious defensive player and altering shots.”
- (On having the chance to play in LA): “To have this opportunity is a blessing. All the things that I’ve been through as far as injuries, all the workouts, the rehab that I’ve done has always been to try to get to the point where I can win a championship, be on a great team and just enjoy the game. I enjoy playing the game so much, it’s the only reason why I still play. Still getting that rush is something that I continue to enjoy.
- Ratliff described how his body feels, and how important taking certain vitamins and minerals has been to him: “I’ve stayed charged up, taking my minerals and vitamins every single day and that’s been a big key to my success (staying healthy). That’s been pretty much my savior, learning about mineral deficiencies that my body was going through, why I was breaking down throughout my career. Being able to get with a doctor to be able to change that has me at this point to where when people see me play, they don’t see a 37-year old guy that went through five or six major injuries.” Ratliff said he still has a lot of pop in his step, a lot of leaping ability and the same tenacity he had when he was younger.
- (On playing with and leading a young guy like Andrew Bynum): “Oh yes (I enjoy it). Just the manhood knowledge that I have as far as the things I’ve been through in this league, I always try to mentor the young guys and try to show them the right path that a lot of the successful people in the league (have done). A few guys listen, some don’t, and then they come back later on and say, ‘Yeah man I wish I would have listened.’
- Ratliff also described what he sees in Bynum: “He’s a great young player. Very, very big guy that has great skills. He could be one of the top centers to play this game, in my opinion. Going through those injuries, I know how it goes, is rough on you, and I wish him all the best in his rehab. Hopefully he can get himself back 100 percent and we can do this thing.”
- The Wyoming product got quite excited when asked about playing for Phil Jackson: “Oh man. That’s always been a dream of mine. To be able to play under Phil … You can ask anybody who’s talked to me about basketball. When they talk about a coach like Phil Jackson – who’s going to win, who’s going to lose in the playoffs and different things of that nature. It’s unprecedented on how he gets guys to step up to the plate. From the top guy to the 12th man on the bench. He’s a guy that always gets the best out of his players and that’s something I’ve always admired, my wife’s always admired about his coaching style.”