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News » Arenas plans to return Saturday

Arenas plans to return Saturday

Arenas plans to return Saturday
Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said Monday morning he plans to make his season debut Saturday night at home against the Detroit Pistons. But as is often the case with the three-time All-Star, the situation remains rather fluid.

Arenas cautioned that "Saturday's the plan, but the date isn't set in stone." Interim coach Ed Tapscott said Monday night that while he is hopeful the guard can return to action by week's end, a handful of details still must be worked out before a definite return date is set.

"It's wonderful that he wants to come back and play," Tapscott said before the Wizards' 101-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls at Verizon Center. "But what we have to do right now is come up with a plan and get together and make sure all responsible parties weigh in. So we're hopeful that we'll have all our ducks in a line, so that will be a reality. But we're not yet 100 percent sure."

Arenas, who in July signed a six-year, $111 million contract with Washington and then in September had a third surgery on his left knee, has practiced full-speed off and on since Feb. 16. He has waffled on whether he would return to action this season. As recently as Sunday, Arenas had debated the value of coming back with his team owning the second-worst record in the NBA.

But Arenas decided that rather than waiting until next season he would come back for the final four home games of the season, the April 8 game at Cleveland and possibly the season finale April 15 at Boston.

"I'm anxious to see where the knee is," said Arenas, who has played just 17 games since tearing the lateral meniscus in his left knee in April 2007. "I can dominate practice without even trying. But in games, with the crowds and people flying at you and the adrenaline going, it's a lot different. I don't want to worry about where I am at the start of next season. I'd rather get that timidness out of the way now."

The details that must be worked out involve:

* Arenas getting down to a team doctor-recommended playing weight of 215 (he weighed 217 pounds Monday) and maintaining that weight for three straight days.

* The guard showing he can get through three straight rigorous practices at full speed Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and his knee responding favorably.

* And the Wizards formulating a plot that best benefits both Arenas and the team.

Arenas said he feels absolutely no pain in his knee and that the main issue now is building up his confidence.

"It's all going to be trial and error," Arenas said of his five- to six-game comeback. "One game, I might work only on outside shots. Another game I'm just gonna attack the basket. Do things like that just to work on getting my body used to doing what it used to do."

Arenas said he undoubtedly can return to being the player who averaged 28.6 points a game from 2004 to 2007.

"Can I be what I was? Yeah," he said with a you've-got-to-be-kidding-me chuckle. "I'm confident in that - as long as this knee holds up. That's the only thing. But the speed and my shot and getting to the basket, I don't have any problem with that. All that's there."

Arenas said the main issue holding him back of late has been the Wizards' medical staff wanting to limit him to 15 minutes when he returned. But after struggling to remain loose while playing in a monitored-minute situation in the final nine games (five regular-season, four playoff) last year, he was hesitant of such a plan.

"They were going to monitor my minutes, and I wasn't going for that," he said. "Monitoring my minutes was part of my problem last year. I'd go in for six minutes, sit for 12 minutes, be cold. I want to just play."

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld didn't return a voice mail, and Tapscott said Arenas' minute load and his role have yet to be determined, but sources close to Arenas say the guard expects to come back as a starter.

Second-year guard Nick Young, who has played Arenas one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three while his mentor was working his way back into form, expects Arenas to return to his old form quickly.

"That'd be real good to have him back. He's really playing with a lot of confidence. He's looking like Gil again," Young said. "The last couple times we played, he was taking a lot of physical contact. He wasn't favoring it or anything. I think he's ready."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 24, 2009


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