Wizards notebook

Mike Miller practices with the Washington Wizards, but he's still on the mend

Mike Miller has practiced three times in the past four days, but Wizards Coach Flip Saunders is not ready to put him in a game yet.
Mike Miller has practiced three times in the past four days, but Wizards Coach Flip Saunders is not ready to put him in a game yet. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mike Miller practiced on Monday, his third practice in the past four days, but Coach Flip Saunders said that "at best, it's 50-50" that Miller will play against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. The Wizards want to be cautious with Miller, who has missed the past 19 games with a strained right calf. Miller also has been recovering from a strained left shoulder.

"There is no question he'll play Friday against Orlando," Saunders said. "We don't to want to have him where he plays, especially where we have a back-to-back. We'd like to get him in a rhythm, and not in a situation where he has to sit out. Cleveland [on Wednesday] might be a possibility."

When Miller returns, Saunders said that he wouldn't immediately be inserted into the starting lineup, which has changed several times since Miller injured himself against San Antonio on Nov. 21. Caron Butler is the latest player to start at shooting guard, making the switch from small forward.

"I don't know if we'll rush him back into the starters' position," Saunders said. "It's a different situation bringing someone back from a calf strain situation. Fatigue can put you in a position where you can re-injure that. We don't him to regress."

Miller said he would take his time with his return as well, but is excited to be back on the floor with his teammates.

"It feels good," Miller said of his return to practice. "Six weeks is a long time. It's about 5 1/2 weeks longer than I ever sat out. It's tough for me. But it's one of those things, you got to rest it."

He added that the calf injury has actually allowed his left shoulder to heal properly. "Still protecting it, but I'm still working on it, so it's good," he said. "That's the best thing about it."

Jamison on distractions

Antawn Jamison spoke on Sunday about how difficult the past few weeks have been for the Wizards, with the team in a four-game losing streak and dealing with the gun incident involving Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton.

"It's tough alone trying to win games and get things going in the right direction," he said. "Where we at right now, trying to get out of the doghouse, it's even tougher. To have distractions away from the game of basketball adds to it."

Jamison was asked how he has been dealing with trade rumors, with league-wide speculation that the Wizards are interested in shaking things up with the team underachieving. "I've been around a while, so it goes in one ear and out the other," he said. "I don't think it's affecting this team at all. A lot of guys are hearing [the trade rumors], but what it all boils down to is, it's part of the territory, it's part of the game. So you just got to block it out and go out and play.

"With me, every year it's something. You just go out there and play the game, but if I have to go somewhere else, that's part of the game.

"I have a pretty good relationship with the front-office people and they have yet to indicate with me that something different is about to happen. They are being very patient and they want to see this thing turn around, but how long do you wait? And how many chances to do give this core group of guys that you have here? Us as players, we know we're in a difficult situation, but we just got to go out there and play hard and know eventually we'll turn things around."

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