Artest on mend from concussion

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest has been cleared by the team to participate in full-court practice and contact drills on Monday.

Speaking before the Lakers game against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday -- Artest's fifth game missed after sustaining a concussion following an accident at his home on Christmas Day -- Artest said he was "almost" ready to return to game action as well.
Los Angeles next game is on Tuesday when it hosts Houston, Artest's former team. Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said he was "hopeful" Artest would be ready for that game, but the 11-year veteran didn't sound as optimistic.

"Today's Sunday?" Artest asked. "No, I don't think [Tuesday's] realistic. It can be, but I doubt it. I don't think so, but I hope so."

When Artest first spoke to the media following the incident he did not offer up many details about the severity of the cuts to the back of this head and left elbow. Four staples were counted in his head on Sunday.
Artest avoided a reporter's question about the specifics of how the injuries occurred.

"It was too scary," Artest said. "I really don't feel like talking about it anymore."

Artest said he is not feeling any dizziness, migraine headaches or nausea anymore and his condition has dramatically improved in the last five days since beginning limited workouts.

"Five days ago it was ... not good," Artest recalled.

"The first day I shot [on Thursday], I was shooting free throws and I almost fell off the free-throw line. I was just standing there shooting free throws and I was wobbling and the room started spinning so I just stopped. [Next] I just did a real simple layup and it felt like the floor wasn't even underneath me."

Artest said he feels ready to return to the court, but is being cautious.

"I could play now," Artest said. "I feel great to play. But the brain, it's like a computer, it's not rebooting no more."

The Lakers' upcoming schedule has them playing the Clippers in Los Angeles on Wednesday and Trail Blazers in Portland on Friday.

With Artest out of the lineup, Kobe Bryant's playing time has increased as he has absorbed some of Artest's minutes at small forward.

"He takes it as a challenge," Artest said. "Me being out is a challenge for him right now. He's not going to say, 'I can't wait for you to get back, Ron.' He's going to say, 'We don't really need you right now, Ron.'"

Dave McMenamin is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.