- The Washington Times - Friday, October 17, 2003

A week ago, second-year player Jared Jeffries and rookie Jarvis Hayes of the Washington Wizards talked about learning from forward Jerry Stackhouse. They planned to apply what they picked up from the eight-year veteran in what they assumed would be limited roles this season.

But things change in the NBA — sometimes quickly — as Jeffries, Hayes and the Wizards are finding out.

The news that Stackhouse will have arthroscopic surgery on his ailing right knee Tuesday all but ensures that he will not be in the lineup when the Wizards’ regular season begins in Chicago on Oct.29. How long Stackhouse will be out will be determined after the surgery.

Another thing coach Eddie Jordan doesn’t know right now is which young player will open the season at small forward.

“It creates an opportunity for one of those young guys,” Jordan said. “We expect both of them to be involved this year. So let’s see who steps up and gets it.”

Jordan and president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld sounded optimistic Thursday when it was announced Stackhouse’s injury would not keep him out of the lineup long.

An MRI revealed no tear in the knee but did show wear on the rear lining of the kneecap, which could account for his pain and be an indication of an undetected problem.

Jordan will use the remaining four preseason games to give Jeffries and Hayes playing time. The way Jordan plans to coach, they could find themselves on the floor at the same time.

There is also the remote possibility veteran Mitchell Butler could start. Jordan speaks glowingly of Butler, who appears a lock to make the squad

The 6-foot-11 Jeffries, who was in 20 games last season before tearing his right ACL, is ready to make the most of the opportunity to get more court time, although he lamented the loss of Stackhouse.

“We count on a guy of his caliber being around and kind of leading you, and if he’s not there it’s definitely a negative thing for your team,” Jeffries said. “But this is a chance for me to step up and show what I worked for all summer. In this league, it’s all about experience. The more experience you get, the more chances you have to get out there, the more confidence you gain and the better you are going to play.”

Hayes has started the team’s last two games and could start again tonight when the Wizards play at New Orleans. Hayes had his best outing of the preseason in a 101-85 loss at Memphis, going 5-for-8 from the floor and scoring 12 points

“Going from potentially coming off the bench to potentially starting changes things,” he said, “but I think we’ll be fine as a team if we just get the concept of the offense that Coach is trying to install. My goal is to just keep showing signs of improvement.”

Meanwhile, Stackhouse and forward Christian Laettner have been named team captains. In Stackhouse’s absence, Jordan appointed Butler an interim captain.

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