Arenas says he won't rush back again

Updated: February 25, 2009, 11:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Gilbert Arenas has been practicing full-speed with the Washington Wizards for more than a week as he works his way back from his latest knee surgery.

The extent of Arenas' participation had been kept under wraps, but he spilled the beans Tuesday when he told The Washington Post: "I'm out there feeling like the old Gilbert Arenas again."

"I'm running, jumping, dunking, feeling good. No pain, no swelling," Arenas said, according to a posting on the newspaper's Web site. "My balance is back, my speed is back. The only thing I have to get used to again is being around other bodies out there on the court. I'm working on getting timing back. The only thing I'm not doing is playing in games."

[+] EnlargeGilbert Arenas
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty ImagesGilbert Arenas, sitting with Juan Dixon, has been an expensive observer after signing a six-year, $111 million contract last summer.

Team spokesman Scott Hall confirmed that Arenas began practicing with the team last week, when the Wizards (13-43) reconvened following the All-Star break, and has gradually increased his workload since then.

Interim coach Ed Tapscott said Monday that Arenas had started to do "some shooting and some running up and down the floor" during practice.

Arenas hasn't played all season because of a knee injury that required three operations in a span of 18 months -- which also means the three-time All-Star has yet to play since signing a six-year, $111 million contract with the Wizards last summer.

The Wizards are assuming Arenas will play at some point this season, though president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said the team was not pressuring Arenas to come back soon.

"If he's healthy -- not if, when he's 100 percent healthy, he'll be back," Grunfeld told the Post. "It's going to be a decision from our medical staff and depending on how Gilbert feels. When the medical staff gives the clearance, he'll be back. He's not going to be rushed. We're hopeful that it's only a matter of time."

Said Arenas: "The way I look at it: I rushed back twice and got hurt again twice, so this time, I'm going to take my time and make sure."

Arenas wants to be doubly sure he is fully recovered before getting into a game situation again, because he believes he is responsible for the consequences of his premature return, which ended in his current layoff, the dismissal of Eddie Jordan as coach, and the team's worst season in the history of the franchise.

"If I wouldn't have rushed back last year, Eddie Jordan wouldn't have been fired," Arenas told the Post. "No way we start 1-10 if I'm right. Eddie would still be here."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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