Arenas to stay off basketball court while rehabbing knee

BERLIN -- Gilbert Arenas has stayed off the basketball court since the Washington Wizards were eliminated from the NBA playoffs in early May.

That's because the three-time All-Star's knee ached as he tried a hasty comeback from a second operation in November, which ended his season midway through the first-round loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I don't want to touch a basketball until August," Arenas said. "After the last two seasons, I never really had time to recover. My knee is about 95 percent -- it's got to get stronger."

Arenas was in Berlin to promote Washington's Oct. 14 game against the New Orleans Hornets as part of the third NBA Europe Live Tour. The preseason game is among four to be played on the continent.

The brash Arenas was vintage Agent Zero as he entertained the German reporters, pumping for the game with promises of all the thrills and intensity of a regular-season contest.

"I'll score, say, 35 in 20 minutes," he said. "It's a real rivalry. It's going to be a serious game -- both teams don't like each other."

The game will be played in a new 15,000-seat venue in Berlin under construction by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will fulfill all NBA specs, right down to the video cube and the size of the locker rooms.

That triggered talk about how long it will be before the league expands to Europe, which many think is coming. Arenas echoed NBA commissioner David Stern's prediction of 10 years.

"I don't think it's realistic if you do one game," Arenas said of the travel. "I think you have to have three or four teams and that many games, but if you have them it will work."

The Berlin venue, called 02 World Arena, is the second NBA-ready arena built in Europe by Anschutz after London.

That means the league finally has the right venues for expansion to match the growing interest across the Atlantic in the NBA and a flood of European players into the league, which guarantees some local stars.

Arenas figures players won't mind the extra travel, if the change of scenery is London, Paris or Berlin.

"It'll cut out the trips to cities where we really don't want to go to," he said. "It's still just 82 games."

The guard said his rehab is centered on stretching and strengthening the knee in hopes of putting a two-year saga behind him. An overzealous comeback after April 2007 surgery led to a second operation in November.

He missed 66 regular-season games and the end of the third straight playoff loss to the Cavaliers in May. The knee, however, didn't stop the Wizards and Arenas from agreeing to a $111 million contract over six years. Arenas is expected to sign the deal later this month.

Since the Wizards also re-signed Antawn Jamison, the team can now return to the familiar refrain of how good the team can be with the big three on the court, including small forward Caron Butler.

"I think if we are healthy, there's few teams that can beat us over seven games," Arenas said.