Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas won’t return until after the All-Star Game, most likely when the Wizards play at Houston on Feb.17.

“I’m just going to wait until after All-Star, get 100 percent and come back and play,” said Arenas, who indicated last week he would be back before the Feb.15 All-Star Game in his hometown of Los Angeles. “No one is going to be happy if I come back too soon, so I’m just going to make everyone happy and come back after All-Star.”

Arenas, who signed a six-year, $64 million-plus contract with the Wizards last summer, has missed 26 games this season mostly with a severely strained abdomen. He was expected to join Jerry Stackhouse in the backcourt to form a lethal duo, but the two have yet to play together.

Stackhouse, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee before the start of the season, made his debut Sunday in a 104-100 loss to Cleveland.

Arenas, who averaged 18.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists when he was healthy, has done three stints on the injured list this season because of the abdominal injury, which he incurred Nov.23. His latest visit to the injured list began Jan.10.

“Let’s make sure everything is fine and everybody is comfortable,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of Arenas. “And then let’s move on with a sense of urgency and intensity and not holding back in the second half of the season.”

Said Arenas: “I would have come back two weeks ago if it was up to me, but it wasn’t.”

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