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News » Finally, Arenas is ready to debut

Finally, Arenas is ready to debut

Finally, Arenas is ready to debut
Gilbert Arenas is listed as a "game-time decision" for Saturday's game against the visiting Detroit Pistons, leaving a sliver of a doubt. But all signs point to the Washington Wizards' three-time All-Star making his debut after missing the season's first 73 games following knee surgery.

Arenas did only light shooting at practice Friday, but interim coach Ed Tapscott said the plan remains for the $111 million man to play Saturday - and he anticipates the guard to return as a starter.

"I would certainly presume he's starting, just out of respect for his status as one of the best players in the league," Tapscott said. "And we will have a final determination on his minutes. I don't think we'll go the full 36, 38 minutes. That just would not be realistic, would not be prudent on our part. I would think somewhere around 24, 28 minutes would be more like it."

The Wizards (17-56) own the Eastern Conference's worst record and have nothing to gain as far as this season goes. The argument has been made that Arenas - who twice last season rushed back to action prematurely - should be shelved until this fall. But the Wizards said they have more to gain by playing him now, though he plans to play only the final four home games and two road games.

"You can certainly make an argument for waiting for next year," Tapscott said. "But he wants to see, and the organization wants to see what we have. And that obviously plays into our planning over the summer, over the spring and into the draft. There's some prudence on just getting a picture. Even if it's not a complete portrait, it's a picture of what we'll have going into next year."

Arenas left Verizon Center on Friday without speaking to reporters, but earlier in the week he said he is eager to test out his left knee - which was operated on in September and has kept him out of game action since April 27.

"I'm anxious to see where the knee is," Arenas said Monday. "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."

Tapscott said he has cautioned Arenas about trying to do too much too soon.

"I don't think [Wizards fans] should expect a scoring explosion," Tapscott said. "In talking with Gil, I said, 'Just play the game as you know how to play the game.' There have been games where he has been an incredible scoring threat. There are other games where he has distributed the ball as well as any point guard around. I would like to see him play a very solid floor game, distribute the ball."

After missing 66 straight games last season following the second of three knee surgeries in less than 18 months, Arenas came off the bench, posting 17 points with two assists and four turnovers. In April, he averaged 14.6 points, 3.8 assists and 2.0 turnovers on 41.8 percent shooting in four games.

After four up-and-down playoff games, the knee forced him out again. But swingman Caron Butler said he expects this return to be different.

"I know now that he's definitely ready. He's looking better and better," said Butler, who hopes to return Saturday after missing six games with a strained left hamstring. "It's going to be special to get everybody back. This will instill some hope in the fans, let them see what this team could be like next year with a tweak here, a tweak there. It's going to be real special."

Said fellow captain Antawn Jamison: "You'll see spurts of what we're accustomed to seeing. He won't be playing that many minutes, but his jump shot is still there and has been whether he's healthy or not. But in the last couple of practices, he's looked normal. Talking trash, which always comes easily for him, but that's a good sign, and that always puts a smile on your face."

Aware of Arenas' trademark unpredictability, Jamison said he won't get overly excited about a reunion until it happens.

"If he's out there, definitely a big bonus; if not, then it's the same thing we've been dealing with all year," Jamison said. "Until I see him with headphones on before the game, getting focused, getting worked on, I'm going to treat it as if he's not back yet.

"I just want him healthy."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 29, 2009


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