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Layoff may allow Wizards to heal

- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

The Washington Wizards' eight-day layoff between the end of preseason and Wednesday night's regular-season opener in Cleveland might seem long, but it provides a welcome chance for some aches and pains to heal.

Coach Eddie Jordan conducted a light workout Saturday, holding out some key players, and gave the Wizards a day off yesterday. They will get back to preparations today with a practice at Verizon Center.

"We want to get our guys as close to healthy as possible," Jordan said. "That's one of the benefits of this long layoff. We're getting a little anxious [to play], but that's a good thing in itself."

With backup forward Darius Songaila absent early in the season because of a pinched nerve, Jordan is focused on the players he will have immediately available.

Antawn Jamison, who played in the world championship with the U.S. national team, has what Jordan described as a "bothersome" shoulder injury. Backup forward center Michael Ruffin is nursing an aching foot, and guard Gilbert Arenas has practiced sporadically in recent days because of a hip injury.

None of the injuries is considered serious, though.

"We're just trying to be as careful with these things as we possibly can be," Jordan said.

Jordan doesn't believe Jamison's extended summer play was detrimental in terms of overwork.

"No, I'm not concerned about that," Jordan said. "To the contrary, I thought it was a good thing for him. I think he came back with a whole lot of pride. He showed over the summer that he was a leader. He didn't play a lot, but that didn't get to him. To be chosen for a team like that, it takes more than just talent -- it shows that you have a lot of character."

After Saturday's practice, Jamison said he was feeling good and the long summer was indeed a good experience. And he doesn't appear to be overly concerned about whether Etan Thomas or Brendan Haywood will join him in the frontcourt as the starting center Wednesday.

"Whether it's Etan or Brendan, we know what to expect out of each individual, and we're not going to miss a beat whatsoever," Jamison said. "So we'll just see what happens when Coach makes his decision."