Healing Henry hungry to play. But where?

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
8:42
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Xavier HenryAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhile still recovering from surgeries on his wrist and knee, soon-to-be free agent Xavier Henry is confident he'll earn more security in his next deal -- be it with the Lakers or elsewhere.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- More than two months removed from a pair of surgeries, Xavier Henry was back on the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice floor Friday.

He’s still far from being back 100 percent after physicians corrected a torn ligament in his left wrist and a bone bruise and abnormality of the meniscus in his right knee.

Henry said team doctors estimate it will take another five to six weeks of rehabilitation to get to that point, but he feels good about his progress nonetheless.

“I’m happy with that,” Henry said. “I’ve gone through this since April. I had my surgeries in April, so it’s been a long time. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel good.

“So I feel like I’m heading in the right direction. I’m all right.”

As well as he might feel, he is running at a reduced weight on the altered-gravity treadmill and has yet to graduate to on-court sprints. The left-handed Henry still is not using his left hand on the court.

“It’s doing great right now,” Henry said of his wrist. “It’s getting stronger and looser every day. That’s what I need it to do so I can get back to dribbling and being able to shoot and stuff.”

The plus side, of course, is being forced to work on his off-hand and round out his game.

“All right-hand stuff,” said Henry, who went through a variety of one-legged balancing activities and shot right-handed free throws with Lakers player development coach Larry Lewis on Friday. “I can’t do anything with my left. So I’ve been working on my right a lot this summer.”

His right knee, which he’s had problems with since high school, also is improving.

“It feels better,” Henry said. “It feels like I’m strengthening my leg the right way, so when I’m finally done with all the rehab I’ll feel good and I’ll feel explosive and feel fast, powerful, stuff like that. I like to play like that.”

Henry is set to become a free agent come July 1. Even though he’ll technically be under contract with the Lakers for less than two more weeks -- unless they re-sign him right when the free agency begins -- Henry believes the team will continue to guide him in his rehab.

“I think as long as I don’t sign with someone else, I think they’ll help me,” Henry said. “Because I’m a decent guy and I don’t treat anybody too bad, where they’re like, ‘Ah, you’re not under contract; we’re not going to help you anymore. Have fun with a gimp leg and a messed up wrist.’

“I think they’ll help me through it, and they’ll see me to 100 percent.”

While Henry was joking about how the Lakers’ training staff could be treating him in the future, the 23-year-old guard/forward was dead serious about his place in the league moving forward.

He came into the Lakers’ training camp last fall on a nonguaranteed contract and had to play his way onto the team. After averaging career highs in points (10.0), rebounds (2.7), assists (1.2), steals (1.0) and minutes (21.1) per game -- all while shooting a career-best 41.7 percent from the field in 43 games (making five starts) -- he believes he’s earned more security with his next deal.

“Last year it was kind of just like a, ‘Hey, we got to find a great place to go and then get there on a nonguaranteed [deal] and just show them what you can do’ type of thing. I’m optimistic that I’ll have a little better deal [this summer], hopefully.”

However, as one of 12 free agents from last year’s Lakers -- a team that still doesn’t even have a coach -- the one thing in Henry’s control at this point is how he takes care of his body.

“All I know is I can play. And when I’m 100 percent next season, I’m going to bring the energy and be able to play,” he said.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0