Arenas Cleared to Play, But He Won't Tonight

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 2, 2008; Page E01

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas has been medically cleared to return to game action as soon as he feels ready, according to a team source, but won't play tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks and remains unsure of when he will return this season.

Arenas was told that he was cleared during a phone conversation with team doctor Marc Connell on Saturday, one day before the Wizards lost to the Lakers in Los Angeles in the fourth game of five-game trip that concluded with a loss at Utah on Monday night.

Connell performed surgery on Arenas's left knee on Nov. 21.

The Wizards did not practice yesterday and Arenas was not available to comment. Team president Ernie Grunfeld did not return a call seeking comment last night.

On March 23, Arenas expected to make his return against the Detroit Pistons in a game at Verizon Center, before Connell informed Arenas that the knee was improving but wasn't quite ready and he should wait at least another week before testing himself in game action.

Arenas was not happy about the decision and said he would not play the rest of the season as he left the locker room before the game started. However, he returned after calming down and watched the Wizards beat the Pistons from a seat on the bench and backed off his threat to sit out the season in an interview later that night.

Arenas said he would likely take a more cautious approach during the same interview.

"My feeling is, I'm all ready to go out there and play, and mentally I'm past that fear of getting hurt again and now you're telling me I can't play?" Arenas said the night of the Pistons game. "So I'm thinking that if you tell me a week, I need to take two weeks and make sure."

Arenas played the first eight games of the season before injuring the knee during a game at Minnesota on Nov. 16. He has missed 66 games this season.

He pushed himself with individual shooting and ballhandling drills during this recent road trip but said he wasn't in game condition and doubted whether he could establish a "rhythm" with so few games remaining in the regular season.

Arenas plans to opt out of the final season of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent. Arenas said he hopes to sign a long-term contract with the Wizards and recently said he would be willing to sign for less if it would ensure that the team retains all-star forward Antawn Jamison.

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