- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2008

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas isn’t taking any chances with his recovery from knee surgery this time around, and he said yesterday he has considered not playing at all this season.

“It’s all about me getting healthy this time,” Arenas said. “If I’m not 110 percent, I’m not going to budge. I’m not in a rush.”

But Arenas will change his stance if the Wizards can do some damage with him in the playoffs and the team clears his return.

“If we have a chance to go far in the playoffs with me playing, I’ll say yeah,” Arenas said. “If not, then I’ll go ahead and shut it down. See ya.”

Arenas has undergone a pair of surgeries on his left knee in a seven-month span. In April, doctors repaired his torn lateral meniscus. His second procedure in mid-November repaired a partial tear in his left medial meniscus.

The Wizards said Arenas could return in three months following the November surgery, which would put him on the court at about the middle of next month.

But in a recent posting on his blog at NBA.com, Arenas said he moved his return back at least one month.

Arenas also said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility he won’t play again until next fall.

“It all depends on how I feel,” he said. “It could be March. It could be April. It depends on how I feel. But the bottom line is I have to protect the rest of my career. I don’t want to jeopardize the rest of my career just to go out and play 15 games.”

Arenas has grown tired of sitting on the sidelines and watching the Wizards, who are 13-10 in his absence.

Following the team’s loss Wednesday to visiting Detroit, Arenas, who has remained on crutches since the injury, ditched them in the trash can next to his locker stall in the team’s dressing room.

“Right now I don’t need them anymore,” he said. “I have felt like I could walk right after the surgery, but they have told me not to take any chances with it. Now I don’t need them anymore, so I’m not going to use them. I don’t know where those crutches are.”

Yesterday, to demonstrate his knee’s health, Arenas bent it 45 degrees “with no pain whatsoever.”

Arenas averaged 22.4 points a game and shot 39 percent from the field in eight games this season. The three-time All-Star averaged 28.4 points and shot nearly 42 percent from the field last season.

Oddly, Arenas had two of his best performances of the season right before his second surgery. He scored 30 points and had 11 assists in a win over visiting Indiana and totaled 27 points and eight assists two days later at Minnesota.

Arenas said he was proud of the way the Wizards (16-15) have performed without him. And he also pondered whether he had returned too early and, as a result, not allowed the first surgery the appropriate time to heal.

“I thought about that, too,” he said. “I mean, yeah. No. Yeah. But I can’t go back and do anything about it, so that’s foolish.”

Note — Despite some soreness in his left knee following the team’s win Friday at Milwaukee, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said Daniels would play today. Daniels has averaged 16.0 points in two games back since missing seven with a sprained knee.

Today’s game

SEATTLE SUPERSONICS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

When: 1 p.m.

Where: Verizon Center

TV/radio: CSN, AM-980

Probable starters: SuperSonics — F Jeff Green, F Nick Collison, C Kurt Thomas, G Kevin Durant, G Earl Watson. Wizards — F Antawn Jamison, F Caron Butler, C Brendan Haywood, G DeShawn Stevenson, G Antonio Daniels.

Injuries: SuperSonics — C Robert Swift (knee), F Chris Wilcox (finger). Wizards — Gilbert Arenas (knee), Etan Thomas (heart surgery).

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