- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

Washington Wizards backup point guard Steve Blake will miss about the first month of the NBA season after surgery to remove a chipped bone from his right ankle yesterday.

Blake, who was injured during a pickup game at his summer basketball camp, is expected to be sidelined 10 to 12 weeks. The Wizards open the regular season Nov.3 at Memphis.

“It’s an uncommon injury, but we expect Steve to make a full recovery,” Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said. “Steve is a very diligent worker. I know he is anxious to begin rehabilitation and get back to action with his teammates as soon as possible.”

The injury was the second of significance for the Wizards this summer. Power forward Kwame Brown broke the fifth metatarsal of his right foot and required surgery. Brown, who also was hurt in a pickup game, is expected to be close to or at full speed when the team begins training camp Oct.5 in Richmond.

“It’s a shame because he was having such a great summer,” Grunfeld said of the 7-foot, 260-pound Brown.

Blake, the 38th pick overall in the 2003 NBA Draft, emerged as a decent backup last season and actually moved ahead of fellow Maryland product Juan Dixon on the team’s depth chart.

Blake’s injury likely will result in more playing time for Dixon, who is scheduled to make approximately $1.1million in the third year of his contract.

Blake won’t be the only guard not in uniform for the opener. Leading scorer Gilbert Arenas (19.6 points) will miss it while serving a one-game league suspension after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge for failing to maintain proper registration of a weapon while living in California in 2003.

Blake had a productive summer for the Wizards, participating in both the Pepsi Summer Pro League and the Reebok Vegas Summer League.

“He looked good,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said earlier this summer. “You could see the improvement he was making. He worked hard.”

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