Coach: Arenas able to 'shoot and cut'

WASHINGTON -- Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott says Gilbert Arenas is showing "signs of progress" as he works to return from knee surgery.

Arenas has started playing 2-on-2 with teammates, although the three-time All-Star point guard has not been cleared to participate in practices. He has not played in a game this season after having his third surgery in 1½ years on his left knee in September.

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Monday that he expects Arenas to play for the team this season, although no timetable has been set.

"He can shoot and cut, so that obviously shows signs of progress, but the medical staff will determine when he'll be able to step that up," Tapscott told the AP.

Based on what he's shown recently, Washington's players figure Arenas will be back in uniform "a lot quicker than later," as co-captain Antawn Jamison put it.

"We all know Gil. We all know how Gil likes to do things. So I guess he's been in the Bat Cave, working with -- what's the butler's name? -- Alfred," Jamison said. "He looks good, from what I've seen. But I don't know a timetable or how healthy he is."

Tapscott spoke about being "conservative" with Arenas, who twice tried to come back last season before having to shut himself down.

"We want to make sure that when he's back in form, he's perfectly in form, and we have no setbacks," said Tapscott, who took over a 1-10 team when he replaced fired coach Eddie Jordan. "That way, you just reduce the risk."

Typically, Tapscott said, a player needs about a week to 10 days of practice to get up to game speed after a lengthy absence. He then noted, though, that "certain guys defy conventional logic, so we'll play it by ear."

Washington also has been without Brendan Haywood all season after he had surgery on his wrist, but the 7-foot center was out on the court after Monday's practice, working on shooting with his left hand. That is another good sign, as is the progress made by the Wizards' younger players, including Andray Blatche (averaging 9.5 points, 5.1 rebounds) and Dominic McGuire (first NBA double-double Sunday), who both have been added to the starting lineup.

"Needless to say, we think we're getting better, improving," Tapscott said. "The young guys are getting experience."