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Good news, most likely: Arenas cleared to start rehab

Ivan Carter reports that Gilbert Arenas is doing well with his recovery.

Injured guard Gilbert Arenas attended his second straight home game and put in some time on an exercise bike in the locker room before the game.

It was the first time Arenas had been cleared for such rehabilitation work and he said doctors have told him that he's "ahead of schedule."

Such information first surfaced in Ian Thomsen's weekly Around the NBA column, in which he said that Arenas could be back by March 1.  

Here's what Arenas himself said about his injury:

Good news. Good news. Good news. I had the specialist come in and they said I'm actually ahead of schedule. I know I've said this one before, but they said I'm ahead of schedule and they're going to start putting me on the bike, but for now my scheduled time to come back is still going to be the same. They said my VMO is stronger than it's supposed to be, especially for somebody who had surgery two weeks ago. Your VMO muscle is right above your knee, it's like your quad muscle.

And then the swelling is down to where it hasn't been since before the first injury. I'm still not taking the pills. I had to fight it. I didn't want pain in my knee and my stomach.

I've been to the practice facility for the last four or five days. You know me, I'm just there talking trash. It keeps you in an upbeat spirit, that's part of rehab too.

So long as Arenas himself isn't rushing his recovery (which doesn't seem to be the case), this is good news.  Assuming he returns around March, that gives us enough time to evaluate this team without him in the lineup, and when he returns, not only will we have him for the playoff push, but we also have enough time to see whether he'll actually give us the lift we need.  Enough people have speculated that we almost might be better off without Arenas, and while I don't subscribe to that theory, it has become clear that Caron Butler has emerged as a star with Arenas out, and that may not have happened in another circumstance.    

Of course, the most interesting thing about Arenas' recent blog entry was his Arenas-like rant about player contracts.  He chastised guys for turning down big money because they feel a comparable player is making more money, citing many members of the 2004 draft class (Emeka Okafor, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala), and even going back to guys like Joe Smith and Samaki Walker as examples of players who turned down big money, only to find themselves broke by NBA standards.  If that's his major point, I think he's right on, but it's a lot easier to say that once you've made your 12 million.  Here's the most interesting line, though, at least as it pertains to his situation this summer (emphasis mine).

If somebody offers you $12 million and you think you're worth more than that, somebody should punch you in your face if you turn down that money. What if you get hurt and you can't play basketball again? You just lost $60 million. You just threw away a great lottery ticket. That's what people don't understand.

Either Arenas is completely delusional, or he's essentially admitting he made a mistake in announcing his intention to opt-out while he was recovering from knee surgery.  I'm leaning towards the second, just because Gilbert tends to opine in a very personal way, both explicitly and implicitly.  Could that mean he won't actually opt-out this summer?  I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.