- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas will have to wait at least another week before attempting a comeback from a Nov. 21 left knee surgery that has kept him out for 60 straight games.

Arenas, who averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 assists in the first eight games of the season, had hoped to make his return last night against the Detroit Pistons.

He went through the team’s shootaround yesterday morning, and his teammates said he looked good. But team doctors evaluated Arenas shortly before pregame warmups and deemed him unready to play.

“He’s close. We believe he’s close,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “But it’s not going to be tonight. It’s a combination. He’s willing to test his whole body in an NBA game, and the doctor says he’s not ready. And it’s good for all parties to wait and see once another week has gone by to see where he is.”

Arenas, who still plans to opt out of his contract this summer to sign a max deal, was upset in the locker room about 90 minutes before tipoff. He got dressed, gathered his belongings and left the arena because he said he didn’t bring clothes that would meet the NBA’s dress code for sitting on the bench.

Arenas paused before he left the locker room and said, “Y’all don’t have to write any more. I’m not coming back this year.”

But he returned to Verizon Center by the start of the second quarter wearing jeans, a button-up and a tan sports coat and sat on the bench.

When asked about Arenas’ claim about not returning this year, Jordan said the guard hasn’t been scratched for the season.

“There’s always a chance,” Jordan said. “We’re not discounting that prediction. There’s always a chance.”

Arenas first injured his knee when he tore his lateral meniscus and had season-ending surgery in April 2007. He rehabbed rigorously during the summer and returned for the first eight games of this season, but pain in the same knee persisted.

Doctors discovered in November that Arenas had torn his medial meniscus — probably during his rehabilitation period — and the three-time All-Star had surgery again.

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