The Los Angeles Lakers visited the White House on Monday to be honored by President Barack Obama. The best part of the ceremony, however, may have been at the end. Pau Gasol leaned over to Andrew Bynum, put his arm around the young center's shoulders and hugged him.
After the ceremony Bynum said, "I'm definitely playing [Tuesday]."
The team had a full practice on Monday and Bynum was able to make it up and down the court in five-on-five situations without causing any problems in his troublesome knee.
The final decision about whether Bynum will play against the Wizards or not will come after the team sees how Bynum responds during Tuesday's shoot around.
"I told him I know he doesn't think he's all the way back yet, but he can help the team right now and he agreed," Jackson said.
Phil Jackson has said that Bynum will start when he returns because the training staff gets his body loose before tip-off and the coach fears that sitting him on the bench to open the game and having him get cold would make this process pointless.
"I'm just not sure if I'm going to start or come off the bench," Bynum said. "It doesn't really matter to me but it will definitely be in quick bursts...five minutes here, five minutes there."
This is going to change the roles of many players throughout the Lakers roster. It will help some and hurt others. Lets take a look:
Gasol, who has been averaging a career-high 39.3 minutes per game seems extremely excited for Bynum's comeback.
"It's exciting," Gasol said. "I'm excited about it. I'm excited for him. I'm excited for the team. I look forward to it... We've been pretty short-handed as far as the rotation in the inside, interior game. For 20-some games it's been that way. It's a difference having somebody like Andrew in the rotation."
Having someone to take the low-post load off of him, Gasol should thrive. He will be able to spot up more and get more rest, so that he can be at his best when in the game.
He can go back to playing his physical gambling defense that was his trademark throughout the playoffs last season. He should also see more open shots on the perimeter with more scoring options on the team.
Odom who has averaged a solid 15.8 points on 58.2 percent shooting in Bynum's absence will see less minutes and likely be relegated to coming off the bench. Odom has been one of the Lakers most effective players this season and it remains to be seen if he can keep up this production off the bench.
The Rest of the Lakers' Bench
Bynum's return will have a trickle down effect after Odom. With Odom being shifted back to the bench every player will in turn play less minutes, cutting into their production. It will mean we see less of guys like Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown who have played very well this year with their extra minutes so far. It will be interesting to see how Phil Jackson rotates his players with the crowded bench he is about to have.
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