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Wizards center Thomas hopes to return this season

WASHINGTON -- Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas hopes to
return from open heart surgery this season.

Thomas said in a radio interview Friday that he should be able
to practice with his teammates soon, the next step in getting back
on the court after having a 4½-hour operation in October to replace
a leaking aortic valve.

"I definitely plan on returning this year," Thomas said on
"The John Thompson Show" on WTEM.

"My recovery is going well," Thomas said. "I'm able to do
more and more. I'm looking forward to getting cleared to be able to
practice here soon."

The 29-year-old Thomas has played six seasons for the Wizards
and is the team's longest-tenured player. He started a career-high
32 games last season, averaging 6.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Thomas was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve after a routine
physical before the start of training camp.

He recently worked out at a sports academy in Florida for more
than a week while doctors monitored his heart rate.

"Everything is fine with my heart. My body has reacted great to
the surgery," Thomas said. "Now they're just waiting to do a few
more tests just to make sure I can take contact to the sternum. But
I feel fine. I feel great."