Wizards' Arenas says conditioning a factor; Butler still out

WASHINGTON -- For weeks, Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas has been targeting a March 2 return from knee surgery. On Saturday night, he conceded that he's not close to being ready to play.

"If I wanted it to be, it can be realistic," Arenas said of his original goal. "But, it's going to be longer to get into shape."

Arenas had surgery on his left knee Nov. 21 and has been rehabilitating it since, but he hasn't practiced with the team.

"I'm trying to get some rhythm back in my legs, get some cardio in. That's all I'm working on now," he said. "I have to get my body used to the floor again."

Arenas first had surgery on the knee last April, and was ready to play when the season began. After playing just eight games and averaging 22.4 points, his knee hurt again, and another operation was ordered.

Does he have another goal?

"It's hard to tell," Arenas said. "If I really want to get out there, I can play now, but are you going to get two good minutes out of me? Right now, it's about me trying to get my body into shape and ready to play again. That's where I'm at right now."

Meanwhile, All-Star forward Caron Butler remains out with a hip flexor strain. Butler has missed 11 of the past 13 games, and was examined by team physicians prior to Saturday's 110-95 win against Charlotte.

"He's not playing tonight. He's not ready to go," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said.

"No long-range plan right now. He's not ready to practice. We may even cut back on some of his extraneous rehabbing -- maybe calm him down a little more."

Prior to Saturday's win, Washington had lost 10 of 11 games, and Jordan says he's concentrating on the 10 players he's able to dress.

"There's nobody coming in to save us right now," he said.