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Songaila to get late start

- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2006

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Washington Wizards forward Darius Songaila could miss a month or more because of a nagging back injury, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Songaila, whom the Wizards signed as a free agent to add versatility to the frontcourt, was injured while playing with Lithuania in September at the world championships. The Wizards had not offered a timetable for his return since then.

The 6-foot-9 Songaila was expected to miss the start of the season. A source said yesterday the Wizards believe he "might be out for a significant block" of time, possibly beyond Thanksgiving.

When asked if Songaila, who was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his back, would be ready to play when the Wizards opened the season in Cleveland on Nov. 1, the source said, "No way."

The Wizards have been closely monitoring Songaila's rehabilitation. That rehab is not going well, a source said.

The inability to treat the injury has caused concerns that the injury might be more significant than originally thought. Surgery hasn't been discussed, however.

"Every time he gets his treatment he makes progress for a day or two and then he's right back at square one with all the pain," the source said. "The treatment hasn't been working and I expect that they're going to have to try something else on it."

Songaila averaged 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds for Chicago last season, but missed the final 20 games with a broken foot. The Wizards signed him to a five-year, $23 million deal over the summer.

-- John N. Mitchell