Stackhouse to sit for remainder of season

Forward takes himself out to rest injured right knee

February 29, 2004|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Washington Wizards forward Jerry Stackhouse has effectively ruled himself out of the final 25 games of the regular season to continue to rehabilitate his ailing right knee.

Stackhouse, who missed the first 45 games of the season after having offseason surgery beneath his right kneecap, said complications from the operation have hampered his ability to play at peak efficiency.

"When you jump back into a pro game and it's going full speed, it takes its toll on your whole body," said Stackhouse after yesterday's 122-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Right now, I'm starting to compensate for this leg and I'm having some ugly little quirks. I want to get healthy [once] and for all, and I want to get back to being the Jerry Stackhouse that I know I can be."

Stackhouse, 29, was Washington's leading scorer last season, and was counted on to be a part of a potent perimeter trio this season, along with point guard Gilbert Arenas and shooting guard Larry Hughes.

However, with Stackhouse's knee injury, a severe groin strain that landed Arenas on the injured list three separate times and a recent wrist injury that is expected to keep Hughes out for at least another month, the three have only played parts of three games together. Not surprisingly, the Wizards have stumbled to an 18-39 mark.

Stackhouse, who averaged 14.1 points in 12 games this season, said he had spoken with coach Eddie Jordan and the team about his decision.

Through a team spokesman, Jordan declined to comment until he could speak with Ernie Grunfeld, Washington's president of basketball operations, pending Grunfeld's return today from a trip.

Stackhouse, who this offseason received a two-year, $18 million extension to an existing two-year, $15 million deal, said he hasn't had a productive offseason in three years because of recurring knee problems.

"Now it's time to be smart and professional ... about the situation," said Stackhouse. "At 29, hopefully I have a lot of basketball left. I don't want to jeopardize that for myself or for the team. The team has a huge investment in me, and I want to be able to be who I've been to deserve the extension that I've been given."

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