WASHINGTON (AP) -Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas hopes to return from open heart surgery this season.
Thomas said in a radio interview Friday that he should be able to practice with his teammates soon, the next step in getting back on the court after having a 4 1/2-hour operation in October to replace a leaking aortic valve.
``I definitely plan on returning this year,'' Thomas said on ``The John Thompson Show'' on WTEM.
``My recovery is going well,'' Thomas said. ``I'm able to do more and more. I'm looking forward to getting cleared to be able to practice here soon.''
The 29-year-old Thomas has played six seasons for the Wizards and is the team's longest-tenured player. He started a career-high 32 games last season, averaging 6.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Thomas was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve after a routine physical before the start of training camp.
He recently worked out at a sports academy in Florida for more than a week while doctors monitored his heart rate.
``Everything is fine with my heart. My body has reacted great to the surgery,'' Thomas said. ``Now they're just waiting to do a few more tests just to make sure I can take contact to the sternum. But I feel fine. I feel great.''

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