- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2003

Forward Jerry Stackhouse knew his knee would keep him from being ready to open the season for the Washington Wizards. Still, he had hoped to avoid the mandatory five-game absence that came with being place on the injured list.

That didn’t happen.

Stackhouse had arthroscopy surgery on his right knee last week, and it is not known when he will return to the roster, which the team finalized yesterday.

“It’s going to be a challenge, and guys are really going to have to step up early because we’re not going to have our top scorer in the lineup,” center Brendan Haywood said before the Stackhouse news became official. “Nobody wants to play without Jerry, but it’s something we’re going to have to do for a while.”

Guard Mitchell Butler also was placed on the injured list with knee tendinitis. The Wizards completed their roster by waiving guard Adam Harrington.

The Wizards don’t know when Stackhouse will be ready. By placing him on the IL, Stackhouse, who can’t walk without crutches, won’t be eligible until the sixth game of the season.

However, Stackhouse told The Washington Times on Friday he did not want to return until he was pain free and added he might have to miss the first month of the season.

With Stackhouse’s return uncertain, the Wizards likely will start rookie Jarvis Hayes at small forward. Hayes, the 10th pick in last summer’s NBA Draft who left Georgia after his junior season, appeared to be improving. He started five games in the preseason, and in the last three games he averaged 17.1 points and 6.1 rebounds.

The Wizards also will play 6-foot-11 Jared Jeffries at small forward. Jeffries’ rookie season ended prematurely after 20 games last year when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. This season he appears to be injury free.

Backup center Etan Thomas has had the better part of two of his three NBA seasons shortened by injury. However, both the team and Thomas sound as if the injuries — toe surgery as a rookie and a fractured orbital socket last season — are behind him.

“I used the summer league to get over the whole eye thing, so now I don’t even think about it anymore,” said Thomas, who missed 44 games last season. “When the summer league started there were times when I would wince when someone would get close. But now I don’t even really think about it.”

During the preseason, the 6-10, 260-pound Thomas had been a consistent backup to Haywood and appears to have secured that position in the rotation ahead of one-time starter Jahidi White. Thomas also will be used at power forward.

Last season Haywood appeared in all but one game. And after getting over a hand injury that forced him to miss 13 games at the start of his rookie season, he has maintained good health.

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