Washington Wizards forward-center Kwame Brown will undergo surgery today to repair a fractured foot suffered while working out near his home in Georgia last week. He is expected to be out six to eight weeks but should return in time for training camp in October.
Brown broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot while scrimmaging with college players July 25. He called the Wizards the next day, returned to Washington and was taken for X-rays July 26.
"He was disappointed by the injury, obviously," said Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards' president of basketball operations. "He's had a good offseason. He's worked very hard, and he's in just terrific shape. He's still very excited about the season."
During a casual game at a local Georgia gym, Brown told Grunfeld, he went up for a rebound, came down and heard something pop. His foot swelled badly later that night, and Brown called the Wizards early the next morning.
Wizards team physician Stephen Haas will perform today's surgery.
"We've been keeping an eye on [Brown] and waiting for the swelling to go down," Grunfeld said. "It all depends on the healing process, obviously, but our doctors are confident we'll have him back in time for camp. He won't miss much, really."
The 6-foot-11 post player has shown steady improvement since 2001, when the Wizards made him the first high school player to go No. 1 in the NBA draft. Last season, he averaged a career-high 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.
This season, Brown will be part of a revamped Wizards' front court. He will play alongside recently acquired forward Antawn Jamison and returning center Brendan Haywood. Also in the mix is forward Etan Thomas (8.9 points, 6.7 rebounds), who recently re-signed with the team for six years and $36.6 million.
Brown's NBA development has seemed agonizingly slow at times. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds his rookie season. That year, he played just 57 games because of constant fatigue, causing the management group that initially coddled Brown to criticize him for being soft.
Last year, though, a more mature Brown materialized: He looked more confident than clumsy, more tenacious than timid.
"We've been very pleased with what he's been doing," Grunfeld said. "He's ready for a big year."
Wizards Note: The Wizards will host Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat in their first home game of the 2004-05 season, the team announced yesterday.
After opening with back-to-back games on the road, the Wizards play the Heat on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. at MCI Center, marking what will be O'Neal's third regular season game with his new team.
The Wizards' 82-game schedule, unveiled yesterday, had few other surprises. The team's toughest stretch will come from March 5 to March 28, when it plays 10 of 12 games away from home. Washington will have two five-game, West Coast road trips -- one in December and another in March.
Tickets to see O'Neal in the opener will be available starting today; tickets for all other home games go on sale Oct. 4.
The highlight of the league's regular season schedule is the annual Christmas day matchup, which this season will feature O'Neal's Heat against his former teammates, the Los Angeles Lakers, at Staples Center.