Andrew Bynum looked as though he was ready to play, putting on a Lakers game jersey for the first time since he could remember.
He also appeared to be having fun singing "Jingle Bells" as one of several players in a team promotion to be shown on the Staples Center scoreboard next month.
But beneath it all, Bynum still isn't ready to play, holiday cheer or not.
He said Monday he wasn't ready to practice this week, again pushing back his return from off-season knee surgery.
It's the timetable saga that won't quit, the 7-footer saying, "I don't think I'm ready yet," as he stood alone off to the side and watched teammates shoot after practice at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo.
He said he would need another week or two of off-court workouts before returning to practice. Bynum has not played this season after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee in July.
Bynum will have an MRI exam Tuesday to determine where he stands in his return. "It feels pretty good, actually," he said. "Make sure everything's still good, and I can kick it up again."
Bynum has been cleared to jump and dunk. He hopes to begin doing lateral workouts this week if the results of the MRI are favorable.
The Lakers are in no hurry to rush Bynum, seeing how they're off to a 12-2 start. Bynum, who turned 23 last month, also isn't forcing his way back on to the court.
"My career is still young and I want to be able to play as many years as possible," he said. "That's why I want to take my time and come back. I don't want to go out too early and then have to start all over again. Hopefully I'll come back and be in really great shape and have my body feeling well so I can go out there and stay out there."
Bynum revealed he initially damaged the cartilage in his right knee when Kobe Bryant slammed into him after an off-balance drive in a January 2009 game against Memphis. Bynum also sustained a torn medial collateral ligament in that collision, which sidelined him for more than two months.
Bynum said he added to the cartilage damage more than a year later when he hyperextended the knee in a first-round playoff game against Oklahoma City in April.
"This tear…actually happened from when I got hurt in Memphis," he said. "It just got worse over time."
Take a seat
There won't exactly be a Lakers-Celtics reunion Tuesday, but Chicago's new head coach is Tom Thibodeau, who served as a Celtics' assistant coach for several years before getting the Bulls' job during the off-season.
Thibodeau was known for his defensive schemes while at Boston, but he stood out for other reasons in the eyes of Phil Jackson.
"He's on the damn court half the time playing defense himself," Jackson said playfully. "Get back and sit down on the bench and let the team go to work. He doesn't have to help them play defense."
The Lakers play host to the Bulls (7-4) on Tuesday at Staples Center.
Times correspondent Mark Medina contributed to this report.