INDIANAPOLIS -- Xavier Henry is finally nearly ready to ring in 2014 by playing in a basketball game again.
The fourth-year wing player, who suffered a bone bruise in his right knee on Dec. 29 against Philadelphia and was later diagnosed with an abnormality of the lateral meniscus and has been sidelined ever since, has been ramping up his workouts and could return to the lineup as soon as Friday when the Lakers host the Sacramento Kings, or Monday when the Lakers play a road game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
"Less pain," said Henry when asked how his knee was feeling before the Lakers played the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. "No pain. It just feels good. Now that I'm getting to work out, I can get it strong without having to worry about it swelling up because it hasn't swelled up yet too bad. So, it's doing pretty well."
Henry was careful not to cry wolf about his progress. There have already been two times while he has been out that Henry increased his activity, only to have to slow it down again and rest because of swelling in the knee.
Could he suffer the same type of setback again?
"I'm past that point," Henry said. "I feel really good when I'm out there. So, now I really need to just strengthen it so I get my jumping and my running and cutting and everything back the way it was."
Henry said the biggest difference with his knee now is that he had it drained and also had a cortisone injection, which proved to be effective.
"I don't know if it was the shot, but I know the shot helped," Henry said. "Draining my knee, getting all the fluid out there and putting the medicine in, it helped and my knee feels pretty good right now."
Henry was originally scheduled to be sidelined an additional four weeks after getting his knee drained Feb. 12, but is now only awaiting a 5-on-5, full-contact practice before getting back in game action.
The team is scheduled to have an off day Thursday coming off their back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday, so unless they run some 5-on-5 at shootaround Friday, Henry would likely miss the Kings game.
Henry, 22, averaged 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists on the season before he got hurt. He will become a free agent July 1 but said his contract situation is not on his mind.
"No," Henry said. "Right now it's just getting healthy. When I can get healthy and when I can play that's all I can worry about."
Even though there will be only 24 games left to the Lakers' season come Friday, Henry will take what he can get.
"It feels like it's been a very long time, and it has been a long time," Henry said. "I'm almost to the finish line. I feel really good and whenever I can get to play, I'm just grateful."