WASHINGTON (AP) — Gilbert Arenas’ sore right ankle kept him out of practice for the third straight day Tuesday as the Washington Wizards prepared for their season opener.
Coach Flip Saunders said he’ll “have to see what happens in the next 48 hours” to determine if Arenas plays Thursday night against the Orlando Magic.
No. 1 overall pick John Wall and veteran Kirk Hinrich would be the starting guards if Arenas doesn’t suit up — and possibly even if he does.
Arenas sprained the ankle during training camp, then later missed two preseason games with a strained right groin as he attempts to come back from last season’s 50-game suspension for a felony gun conviction.
“We need him, there’s no question,” Saunders said. “You take a guy that last year, before he went out, he was a 22-point scorer and 7½ assists, so you’d like to put that in your lineup. What it does is it puts more pressure on your main guards, John and Kirk, those guys maybe have to play more minutes than maybe what you’d like them to until you get him back, whenever that is.”
The Wizards departed for Florida on Tuesday, leaving a day early to get away from the annual Washington International Horse Show that has taken over the Verizon Center.
“With the horse show here, it’s kind of a pain in the butt to kind of be around here,” Saunders said with a laugh. “Not only from a standpoint of how it smells, but just even traffic and everything else. I just thought it would be a better concentrated effort for us. … You get down there practice, rest, have a good practice the next day and kind of have a better bonding type situation.”