Lakers hope Mihm can play after having heel surgery

Los Angeles Lakers center Chris Mihm, who hasn't played since Dec. 23 because of various foot ailments, will undergo surgery on his right heel and miss approximately four to six weeks.

Both the team and Mihm believed surgery was the best option and hope he'll be able to return at some point this season as a backup. It's expected that the surgery will be performed sometime this week, The Los Angeles Times reported.

"We wanted to give Chris a shot to have an opportunity during this time and through the All-Star break to come back perhaps, but it looks like it's going to be a little bit longer for that," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, according to The Times.

The 28-year-old Mihm sat out last season while recovering from reconstructive ankle surgery. He's averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19 games this season.

The Lakers also have been without center Andrew Bynum since mid-January because of a left knee injury. While the team hopes Bynum is ready to return by mid-March, the recent acquisition of 7-footer Pau Gasol has paid dividends. In five games since being traded from Memphis, Gasol is averaging 20.8 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the team signed center D.J. Mbenga for the rest of the season Monday.

Mbenga was originally signed to a 10-day contract on Jan. 21, a
week after Bynum injured his left knee. Mbenga was signed to a second 10-day contract on Feb. 1.

Jackson said signing Mbenga for the rest of the year is no reflection on Bynum's status. Entering Monday's game against the Bobcats, a 106-97 victory for Los Angeles, Mbenga has averaged 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds.