- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2008

Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan basically shot down any hopes that Gilbert Arenas will make his long-awaited return from a November knee surgery on March 2 — the date the point guard had targeted for a comeback.

When asked whether he was optimistic about Arenas’ return date, Jordan was blunt.

“No. I’m not,” Jordan said. ”. . . There’s nobody coming in to save us right now. It’s what we have in the locker room. I’ve got 10 guys in the locker room that I’m coaching tonight, and that’s the only [thing] that matters right now. I’m not in the prediction business, because I can’t.”

Arenas, who in November had a second surgery on his left knee after tearing his meniscus last April, went through some light noncontact drills in practice Monday and missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday.

Arenas did play rookie Nick Young one-on-one a few times this week, but he echoed the coach’s sentiments that he is further away from returning than expected.

“It may take me longer to get in shape,” Arenas said. “That’s why I’m out there with Nick trying to get some rhythm back in my legs, get some cardio in and that’s all I’m working on. Truthfully, it’s hard to tell.

“If I really wanted to get out there, I can go play now, but you’re going to get two good minutes out of me right now. But I’m trying to get in shape, get my body used to playing again.”

Jordan also said forward Caron Butler isn’t close to returning.

Butler, who has missed 11 of the last 13 games with a strained left hip flexor, hoped to come back after last weekend’s All-Star break. He practiced for the first time Monday but has still experienced stiffness and soreness in the joint and isn’t able to go full speed.

“There’s no long-range plan right now,” Jordan said. “He’s not ready to practice. Matter of fact, we might cut back on some of his extraneous rehabbing, OK? Maybe calm him down a little more than he is.”

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