Still no timetable for Bynum's return

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers starting center Andrew Bynum has missed the last eight games with a strained left Achilles tendon and while there is no official timetable set for when the 7-footer will return, head coach Phil Jackson told Bynum on Tuesday not to feel pressured to rush back for the five remaining games left in the regular season.

"I'm not holding my breath on a timetable," Jackson said after the team's practice that ran about a half-hour longer than usual after an off day on Monday.

"It's going to take some time and we just don't know when. Obviously we'd like to have him play a couple games at the end of the season, but this morning I told him, 'If that's not possible, we'll take whatever we get in the playoffs at that time.'"

The Lakers have five games in the next eight days before the regular season ends on April 14.

Bynum underwent a second MRI on the Achilles on Monday that Jackson described as "inconclusive as far as any major injury going on."

Jackson said Bynum will accompany the team on its upcoming two-game road trip so he can continue with his therapy and be close to the training staff that will also travel with the team through Denver and Minnesota.

Jackson said Bynum is experiencing "discomfort" and starts to feel "tender and sore" after exercise that requires him to jump, but remained positive about how the 22-year-old was making progress.

"Everything is forward with him," Jackson said. "It's a matter of rehabilitation and getting himself back in shape.

"I think he's optimistic. I really do. I think his mood is good. He wants to be playing obviously, but he can't. But he doesn't see that it's going to be a serious thing that's going to linger and have any ramifications for his future or career or anything like that. It's just a matter of time."

Last season Bynum returned to the Lakers lineup from a torn MCL in his right knee with just four regular season games remaining after sustaining the injury in late January and never quite found his rhythm throughout the Lakers championship run.

Pau Gasol said that Bynum's return will be different this time around.

"I think it won't be as hard as last year," Gasol said. "I think his injury is not as complicated as it was last year. He hasn't been out as long so it will be easier, the process. We hope that he can come back before the regular season is over so he can get back into the flow of things and in the rhythm, but it's up to his injury to say or determine where he's at. We don't want him to rush it."

Bynum is averaging 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds on the season.

When asked how he was feeling as he walked out of the practice facility, the fifth-year veteran said, "About the same," and left for an appearance to award a prize to a poster-contest winner at a local YMCA.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.