Washington Wizards fourth-year forward Kwame Brown said yesterday that his surgically repaired right foot "more than likely" will keep him out until December.

"It really doesn't make sense -- the team is doing well -- for me to rush back and hurt myself again," he said. "I want to come back and be back."

The Wizards are off to a 2-1 start with Brown on the injured list. When he returns, he will have a lot at stake. The former No. 1 pick wasn't able to agree on a contract extension with the Wizards before the Oct. 31 deadline, meaning that he will become a restricted free agent next summer. A source familiar with the negotiations said the Wizards offered Brown a four-year deal worth $7.5 million per season, with a team option for a fifth year.

"I just thought it was better for me to wait it out," Brown said. "It's a gamble, but I'm betting on me. I have a lot of confidence. Prior to the injury, I was working pretty hard, lifting and I was getting a lot stronger."

A team source said the team plans to match any offer Brown receives next summer. Either way, Brown said his desire is to remain in Washington.

"Yeah, of course," he said. "I think now that we have what we have, I don't see why we can't keep this thing together; stop sending players here and there and just keep a foundation.

"I look at it as a positive," Brown said of his pending free agency. "It gives me a chance to play for me, to showcase what I can do, and what I can do for the team. The better I am as an individual, the better we are as a team.

"It's not like I'm going to be 100 percent when I come back. I'll just come back and whatever I can give, give it as we go along. I can build in the last couple of months [and] hopefully in the playoffs, we can make that push."

Brown sprained his left ankle last week, landing on teammate Larry Hughes's foot during a drill. He will wear a protective boot on his left foot until Tuesday. The ankle injury isn't serious but it has made Brown "slow down a little bit," he said.

Brown targeted the middle of November for his return but he is still reluctant to put pressure on his right foot.

"I'm just thinking I'm going to break it again," he said. He can't spin or pivot on it and Brown said he was limited to light jogging on the treadmill before he sprained his left ankle.

"I haven't jumped or done wind sprints since this injury," said Brown, who had a screw inserted in his right foot in August.

"I missed a lot of work, with training camp and all that stuff. If I put myself out there, I'd get killed. People say come back this month. What am I going to do? I can't get up off this leg yet."

Point guard Gilbert Arenas bruised his left heel during the Wizards' 118-106 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday, but he said the injury shouldn't keep him out of the rematch Tuesday in Miami. "It hurts a lot," Arenas said, walking with a limp. "I'm not trying to miss any games."

Arenas was injured in the second quarter when he attempted a dunk and got bumped by Miami forward Rasual Butler. Instead of landing on both feet, Arenas landed on his left heel.

"All that impact went right on my heel, straight on the bone," he said.

Arenas played the rest of the game trying to keep his left heel off the ground. He experienced cramps throughout his body afterward.

After watching Heat point guard Dwyane Wade dictate the flow with 37 points and 12 assists, Arenas said he will take a different approach next time.

"Just me in attack mode, putting him on his heels, just like he had me," Arenas said. "Me and Wade, this is going to be going on while we're both in the league. You got LeBron and Carmelo doing it. Why can't me and him do it? You got the Jordan and the Isiah Thomas going on right now. So, we've just got to both help our teams get to the playoffs. He did his job [Saturday], I have to do my job Tuesday."

Arenas scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half Saturday but regretted waiting until his team was trailing before he got aggressive. While looking to find his teammates, Arenas was passing up his scoring opportunities.

"I was hesitating on shots. If I'm not attacking, then I'm basically forcing passes and getting turnovers," said Arenas, who has 13 assists and 14 turnovers after two games.

Coach Eddie Jordan said Arenas looking for his teammates is a sign of him maturing as a point guard.

"If you don't take an open shot, you're not helping the team," Jordan said. "I think sometimes he wants to be sure about making the play and making the play for himself. It's a good thing that he's said, 'Maybe I should make a play for my teammates first.' "

Said Arenas: "It's not going to happen overnight. It's a work in progress. Jason Kidd probably still has problems trying to find what he should do and he's the best. This is my third year working on it."