— Gilbert Arenas will miss at least the first two games of the regular season because of a strained tendon in his right ankle. Arenas missed his fourth straight practice on Wednesday and walked around the RDV Sports Complex in Orlando wearing a protective boot.
Wizards coach Flip Saunders said Arenas will be re-evaluated but ruled him out for the season opener on Thursday against the Magic and on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks. After practice, Arenas huddled with Saunders and president Ernie Grunfeld for a few minutes.
"He's going to have a doctor look at it again," Saunders said. "So he won't be here for these two. We'll evaluate him and hopefully these days in the boot will let that [heal]. Right now the tendon's inflamed, we've got to get that thing to settle down. Once it settles down and some of that fluid gets out, he's probably going to have a better chance of playing. That's at least what the medical staff tells me."
Arenas originally injured the ankle during training camp and missed the last two preseason games with a strained right groin. He also missed another game when he lied to Saunders about a knee injury to give Nick Young a chance to start. He has played 47 games over the past three season because of a nagging left knee injury and 50-game suspension last season for bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room.
Saunders conceded the Wizards, with an average age of 24.5, would have a challenge opening the season against an Orlando team only two years removed from reaching the NBA Finals. The Magic will also open its new downtown arena, Amway Center.
"We hope we're not the homecoming team," Saunders said with a laugh. "Let's face the fact, we're not going to have Gil. We're not going to have Josh [Howard]. So you're looking at your two most veteran players, they are not going to play. We started out with our roster being the third-youngest team; without those guys on your opening day roster, we might have the youngest opening day roster in the league. So I think what you have, as a coach, is excitement to see how we're going to react, a little bit of anxiety to see how we react. I think more than anything else, we've had a good camp. As young as we are, we're as prepared as you can be for game situations, able to change defenses, doing a lot of different things and you hope to control the tempo of the game."
Wall and Kirk Hinrich will be the starting backcourt against the Magic. Hinrich called Orlando "a machine."
"They've got a good thing going down here," Hinrich said of the Magic. "There's so many challenges in the league, every game. They pose a lot of problems. It's unfortunate that we don't have Gilbert, but we can't control it. We've got to execute our game plan and we'll see what happens."
The Wizards had been preparing for the season opener as if they would not have Arenas.