Wizards' Butler plans to return to practice next week

WASHINGTON -- Washington Wizards forward Caron Butler plans to be back at practice next week, but there is still no timetable for when he might be able to return to games after being sidelined by a hip injury.

"I am trying to get back out there," the two-time All-Star said Thursday. "I am going to wait until next week to start participating in practices, and I am going to play it by ear. My body is going to determine whether I am able to play or not."

The injury originally was diagnosed as a strained hip flexor at the end of January, and Butler sat out three games. He then tried playing in two games, before he sat again, and an MRI exam found that Butler has a small labral tear of the left hip joint.

He hasn't been in uniform since Feb. 5, and the Wizards are 5-8 over the past month.

"It's amazing how an injury can put a halt to what you are doing. I have been unfortunate the last couple of years -- hit with the injury bug in the second half of the season," Butler said. "This is one of those things that I am pretty sure I can bounce back from. The medical staff feels the same way, and I feel great about that."

Butler, averaging 21.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals this season, called surgery "the very last option."

Instead, he hopes rest and rehab will allow him to come back at full strength.

"I am very confident that I will be back on the court, sooner rather than later," he said.