Artest aiming to be ready for playoffs

Out at least a month after Thursday's surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Ron Artest insists he'll be ready for the playoffs, The Indianapolis Star reports in Monday's editions.

The Pacers' All-Star small forward may miss the remainder of the regular season.

According to the paper, however, Artest already is back at work. He was spotted on the practice court at Conseco Fieldhouse with a bathrobe over his practice gear.

Artest told the Star that the robe was a symbolic reminder to take it easy. He spent his practice time shooting one-handed jumpers on the hoops surrounding the court, but did no running.

"My doctor said she would do everything she could to get me back soon and that I'd definitely be back for the playoffs," Artest told the paper. "I'm going to be off the floor for a while, so I want to be up in here. There are a lot of things I can still do to make myself better right now."

Artest said he will resume more intense workouts next week, according to the Star.

The forward suffered the injury in a Jan. 17 game at New Jersey when his hand became entangled in Richard Jefferson's jersey. Artest played for a month with his thumb taped, but aggravated the injury in Tuesday's loss to the Hornets.

"I played it smart this time. It was a good decision to get the surgery now," he told the Star. "A lot of people wanted me to keep going and not get the surgery. But that would have been a dumb decision, knowing that I could be back for the playoffs."