Andrew Bynum will be back this season. He guarantees it.
The Lakers center is feeling optimistic entering his seventh week since sustaining a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee Jan. 31.
"It's been a good six weeks," he said Sunday afternoon. "I'm running on the treadmill, no pain, every day. I just hope that the lateral movement gets a little better in the next couple of weeks. That's what the doctor told me."
Bynum has been out since Kobe Bryant collided with him in a Jan. 31 game at Memphis. He is on schedule to return in April, though whether it's earlier or later in the month remains to be seen.
"I went to get on the court and see what happens if I start trying to do some moves and things like that," Bynum said. "I don't have a [specific] date. I just know in a couple of weeks, hopefully, I'll be able to participate with the team a little bit more in practice, and a week after that, I should be back in game shape."
Bynum said this wouldn't be a repeat of last season, when he went down with an injury to his other knee and never returned.
"I'll definitely be back this season," he said.
Bynum was averaging 14 points and 8.2 rebounds a game when he was injured. The Lakers are 16-4 in his absence.
No fatigue factor
Wasn't Pau Gasol supposed to be tired?
Weren't the minutes piling up at his feet, a game-by-game reminder that the power forward was logging too much time against too many big bodies while playing out of position at center in place of Bynum?
Gasol made 12 of 13 shots and had 25 points Sunday in the Lakers' 107-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
He continued a three-game run against playoff-worthy teams from Texas after averaging 21.5 points and eight rebounds in road victories over San Antonio and Houston.
However, he had also gained the attention of the Lakers' coaching staff because of his ever-increasing playing time.
He had 41 minutes Thursday at San Antonio and 43 Wednesday at Houston, leading Coach Phil Jackson to cancel practice Friday, in no small part because "Pau's played a lot of minutes," he said.
Even though Gasol played 41 minutes against Dallas, the coaches can breathe easier.
Gasol looked as spry as could be, scoring 20 points on 10-for-10 shooting in the first half.
"I told him he almost had a perfect first half," Jackson said.
"There isn't anything that's perfect, but I think he almost had a perfect first half," Jackson said.
Gasol finally missed a turnaround jump shot 46 seconds into the third quarter.
"I got fouled, too," he said, smiling.
Rookie Sun Yue will return to the Lakers as early as today after playing four games with their Development League affiliate, Jackson said.
Sun averaged 10 points and 3.3 assists for the D-Fenders while shooting only 37.5% before Sunday night's game against the Colorado 14ers.
He had only seven points on three-for-10 shooting Friday against the Idaho Stampede.
"His stats haven't been outstanding," Jackson said.
Sun probably will travel with the team for its upcoming seven-game trip but can still be sent back down to the Development League two more times this season.
Times staff writer Mark Heisler contributed to this report.