Apparently the knee issues aren’t over for Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas.
The three-time All-Star said Wednesday afternoon he had his surgically repaired left knee scoped early in the morning because lingering debris has prevented him from returning to 100 percent. Arenas said he will miss all of training camp, which runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 in Richmond, and that he likely won’t play at all during the first month of the 2008-09 season.
The Wizards open the season at home Oct. 29 and play 14 games in the first month of the season.
Arenas, who signed a six-year $111 million contract in the summer, said having arthoscopic surgery came as no surprise. After missing all but 13 games last season, Arenas shelved himself before Game 5 of the Wizards’ playoff series with the Cleveland Cavaliers because of lingering pain and discomfort in the knee. He said doctors told him shortly thereafter that debris floating around in the knee, which had been operated on twice since he tore his ACL in April 2007, caused the pain.
Arenas said Wednesday he was told the debris “maybe would wash away by itself” with time and rest, so he didn’t run or do any basketball-related activity until August. But the pain returned when he tried to resume a full workload.
Arenas played the first eight games of last season before he had a second surgery on his knee. He returned for the final five games of the regular season and played in four playoff games. In the 13 regular-season games, Arenas averaged 19.4 points and 5.1 assists. He averaged 10.8 points and 2.8 assists in the postseason.
He doesn’t consider Wednesday’s surgery a setback and remains confident he can fully recover.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “I wasn’t planning on playing until January anyway. Everybody has known I was gonna miss training camp. I probably could’ve gotten by without it until June, but if I went to do something spectacular, it probably would have buckled under on me.”
At the time, Arenas had yet to speak with team president Ernie Grunfeld or coach Eddie Jordan, and he didn’t speak with either team official before he had his knee scoped.
“This was my decision,” said Arenas, who revealed he had yet to resume hard running or jumping in recent months. “Two nights ago I talked with the trainer, and they were telling me if I just got it cleaned out I’d probably be back in two or three months or maybe even faster because I can rehab without the pain. So then I was like, let’s get it cleaned out.”
When reached Wednesday afternoon, Grunfeld said the procedure came as no surprise, and he communicated with the team’s medical staff most of Tuesday.
“We weren’t caught off guard by this at all,” Grunfeld said. “Gilbert has been working extremely hard, and he wanted to get back as soon as possible, but when we ramped up his rehab, he had some discomfort and some swelling. So this was the right time to do it.”
The team issued a statement Wednesday afternoon that said team physician Marc Connell performed “an arthoscopic lavage” at Sibley Memorial Hospital in the District.
“After Arenas’ normal course of rehabilitation was ramped up, he experienced some swelling and discomfort in his knee,” Connell stated in the news release.
“A subsequent MRI showed that the knee is structurally sound. The decision was made to perform an arthroscopic lavage procedure, during which a moderate amount of debris was removed after saline solution was washed through the knee. The presence of debris is common with the nature of his previous injury. This was a proactive procedure that will enhance his rehabilitation process.”
Grunfeld said even without the scope, there was no set timetable for Arenas’ return, and he reaffirmed his confidence in the rest of the players on the roster. Veteran Antonio Daniels started 63 games in place of Arenas last season and averaged 8.4 points and 4.8 assists. And the team signed former Utah Jazz guard Dee Brown over the summer to bolster its depth at point guard.
“This is a resilient team we have, and we’re confident that we can compete at a high level until Gilbert returns,” said Grunfeld, who insisted that he has no doubts Arenas can pull of a full recovery. “He’s 26 years old, and we’re looking at the big picture. We’re not looking at one month. We expect to have him as an outstanding player in this franchise for a long time.”
Jordan couldn’t be reached for comment.