The Washington Wizards will soon open its 2010-’11 season with new franchise star John Wall, but it appears as if one of the team’s old top dogs is still up to his old tricks.

Veteran Wizards star Gilbert Arenas has missed playing time in each of his last three seasons, and could soon make it a fourth straight year. The Wizards have reported that Arenas, who is trying to bounce back from a 50-game suspension after a felony gun conviction last season, is suffering from a sore right ankle and could miss Washington’s season opener.

The 28-year-old former all-star was sidelined during the most recent team practices. Wizards head coach Flip Saunders told reporters that Arenas’ ankle has fluid buildup and the team is waiting “to see how it is” before they clear him to play.

Arenas sprained the same ankle in training camp during the summer, but it didn’t appear serious at the time. But he later missed two preseason games after suffering a strained right groin. He was also fined and took heat for sitting out one preseason game by faking a knee injury, claiming he just wanted to give his teammate, Nick Young, a chance at more playing time. Arenas apologized for his actions and hasn’t spoken with the media since.

Saunders told reporters he’d love to have Gil on the court for the opening games of the season, but he’s not worried if he isn’t healthy in time.

“I’m not really ; we’ve prepared, we’ve played a lot without him,” Saunders said. “So, we’d love to have him. If we don’t have him, I still think we can go out there and be effective.”

To be effective without Arenas, the Wizards will have to rely on new additions such as Wall and veteran guard Kirk Hinrich. They’ll also have to lean on returning veterans like Young and Al Thorton, who appears fully recovered from his own injury suffered during preseason.

“Al’s played extremely well the last week, got his legs under him from when he was hurt,” Saunders said, “I think Al’s back. He’s healthy.”

The Wizards will take on the Orlando Magic on Oct. 28 and the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 30 before hosting its season home opener on Nov. 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor