- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Washington Wizards center Jahidi White has decided to have surgery on his left knee, a procedure that could make him unavailable to the team until the second week of the season, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
White's decision, which is believed to have been made over the weekend after he secured a third opinion on the knee last week, almost guarantees that second-year center Brendan Haywood will be thrust into the starting job when the team begins the season at Toronto on Oct. 30.
White was unavailable for comment yesterday.
White's other option was to continue taking doses of anti-inflammatory medication in hope that the pain would abate. However, White is believed to favor surgery, primarily because of the experience of Georgetown alumnus and current Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning. Mourning missed all but 13 games of the 2000-01 season after he developed a kidney condition that many believe was attributed to excessive use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Mourning has yet to return to his All-Star form.
"That's the way Jahidi wants to go," one of the sources said. "I'm sure the Wizards will accommodate his wishes."
The 6-foot-9, 293-pound White, who ended the season complaining about pain in the left knee, was told by the Wizards' medical staff to remain inactive for at least two months after the close of the regular season. However, the pain in his knee prevented him from returning to regular workouts this summer.
The Wizards wanted White to continue to treat the pain with anti-inflammatory drugs. New York Knicks physician Norman Scott also saw White, who is believed to have come to his decision after meeting last week with Chicago orthopedist John Hefferon.
If White is unavailable at the start of the regular season, it would be a setback in an offseason that otherwise has been bright. The Wizards drafted forward Jared Jeffries with the 11th pick in the draft and added former Maryland star Juan Dixon with the 17th pick overall.
They also signed Larry Hughes to a three-year deal. The Wizards expect to play the 6-5 Hughes in the backcourt with Richard Hamilton (and at times Michael Jordan if he plays this season), which could create matchup problems for numerous teams because of their size.
Although White started in 69 games for the Wizards last season and averaged 5.4 points and 6.3 rebounds, he was not a lock to start. Haywood, at 7-0 and 260 pounds, was impressive at times last season, when he averaged 5.1 points and 5.2 rebounds as a rookie before wear and tear seemed to take a toll.
The Wizards probably will have to rely on Etan Thomas more heavily this season. Thomas probably also will split time at power forward.

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