Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas had surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone Monday and likely is out for the rest of the season. The team said Thomas could begin basketball-related drills in roughly a month but with six weeks left in the regular season, Coach Doug Collins said he probably won't be able to get back into shape in time to help the Wizards.

Thomas, in his third season, was inadvertently elbowed by New Jersey's Richard Jefferson in a Wizards victory Feb. 21. He has been on the injured list since Feb. 26.

"The surgery went well, but I think it was more delicate than they anticipated," Collins said about the outpatient process. "He had something on his sinus they had to work around. The crack was a little bit more prominent than they thought."

This is the second significant injury of Thomas's career. He missed his entire rookie season with Dallas when a toe injury required surgery.

Hughes Returns

Guard Larry Hughes missed the past six games with a sprained right ankle but decided to play last night against the visiting Toronto Raptors, even though he was less than 100 percent.

"Hopefully, that will give us some minutes back there that we desperately need right now," Collins said.

Collins said Hughes would spend more time at point guard to allow rookie Juan Dixon -- who started at point guard -- to play more at shooting guard, his natural position.

Ironically, Hughes was replaced in the starting lineup by Tyronn Lue (out with a dislocated left shoulder) so Hughes could be used more at shooting guard, his natural position.

"We're asking Juan to direct the team and really that's not his strength," said Collins, who put Hughes in for Dixon after about 31/2 minutes.


For the past three games, the Wizards' starting lineup has been composed of players who played their collegiate ball in the ACC: Dixon (Maryland), Christian Laettner (Duke), Michael Jordan, Brendan Haywood and Jerry Stackhouse (North Carolina).