- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Jerry Stackhouse’s knee surgery last month eased his pain, but the forward said he still doesn’t anticipate being able to return to the team until next month at the earliest, meaning he would miss at least the first 15 games of the season.

Stackhouse had surgery Oct.21 to remove scar tissue that resulted from the wearing of the lining behind his right knee cap, an injury he dealt with for the better part of last season. At the start of this season he went on the injured list, which required him to miss a minimum of five games. Stackhouse, who is walking without crutches, will be eligible to return Saturday at Cleveland but said he plans on returning only when his right knee is pain free.

“It’s not worth [rushing back],” Stackhouse, 28, said yesterday. “I’m going to come back in the time my knee allows me to come back in, whether that’s six weeks from now or 12 weeks from now.”

The Wizards, who have not disclosed a time frame for Stackhouse’s return, appear to agree with the assessment of Stackhouse, who extended his contract through 2007 in the offseason.

“It’s all dependent on how Jerry’s knee responds to surgery,” Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said. “The doctors did what they needed to do to ensure that Jerry makes a 100 percent recovery, and that’s what we want. We want Jerry Stackhouse to come back when he is 100 percent ready.”

Stackhouse was the first of a number of notable players to undergo early season surgery. Seattle’s Ray Allen is expected to be out six to eight weeks following ankle surgery. New Orleans’ Jamal Mashburn is also out at least six weeks following knee surgery.

Some players have been accused of putting off surgery until training camp so as to extend their summer vacations, but Stackhouse’s situation was different.

After missing the final four games of the 2002-03 regular season, Stackhouse consulted often with Wizards team physician Stephen Hass. Both Stackhouse and Hass agreed surgery was a last resort and instead worked on strengthening his knee, which still shows significant postsurgical swelling.

“The timing isn’t what I would have liked it to have been as far as getting it done before the start of the season,” Stackhouse said. “I would have liked to have done it after the season last year, but whenever there is a situation where you have the option to do rehab instead of surgery, that’s the direction you go.”

Before his surgery, Stackhouse said he was experiencing minor injuries — in his left knee and his groin, for example — that he believed were a result of overcompensating for his knee. Now those pains are gone.

Stackhouse’s lengthy recovery will mean the Wizards will head into a tough stretch without the player coach Eddie Jordan calls the team’s leader. Washington (1-2) is coming off a 98-85 loss to defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey. Among its 13 remaining games this month are contests against Dallas tomorrow, Detroit, San Antonio, Portland, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I’m not even looking at it like that,” Stackhouse said. “It’s disappointing that I’m not able to be out their with the team. It’s tough because I feel like I could be out there directing traffic a little bit. The good thing is that somebody is going to emerge.”

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