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Giving in to temptation: The mysterious case of Gilbert Arenas and the missing smile

By Lee Friedman

I tried to talk myself out of this. I promised I would exhibit a small shred of self-control. In my defense, I lasted nearly three weeks, so please give me some credit. It’s time to address Gilbert Arenas (speaking of self-control, nice job by Michael Wilbon in his column on Thursday waiting all the way until the fourth paragraph to mention “Chicago”).

Let me get this out of the way first. I think the media goes overboard in its hyper-coverage of Gilbert's mental status. I mean, how much time have they spent covering his lack of smilage (I want credit when it is turned in to a sabermetric category) during training camp. We say we wanted a more serious, less playful Arenas…and when he acts that way we keep wondering why he isn’t his old goofy self.

Thursday morning Michael Wilbon had a column saying that the Wizards should trade him ASAP. Well at least I think he wrote that, Wilbon tends to take opposing positions in the same column, and lord knows it’s hard to write a column from the sand trap on the 13th hole at Columbia, so I don’t hold it against him. The guy changes positions more times than Albert Haynesworth (I know that was the easy joke there, but it’s the PG rated version so cut me some slack).

When Arenas went down with his first knee injury, he was one of the top ten players in the league. I think we can all agree he will never be that player again, and not just because of the time off and additional injuries. The role he had with the Wizards when he got hurt was unique, he was the Number 1 guy, the offense ran through him.  That ship has sailed. His role now is to play off of John Wall, pick his spots and score. I think Arenas will thrive in that role, I think he’ll average 17-19 points per game and fit into the system well. He’ll still be a disaster defensively, instead of quicker point guards driving by him, he’ll just get posted up by shooting guards.

So let's assume it's late January and that’s the Arenas you have. There are two reasons to get rid of Arenas and accept less than his real value in a trade: his contract and his attitude. I actually think the contract, at this point, is less of a concern. The Wizards are not signing any big free agents next summer or competing for a championship any time soon, and they will be under the salary cap next year, even with Gilbert’s contract. I know the next collective bargaining agreement could penalize awful contracts like Gilbert’s, but at this point we just don’t know.

As for his attitude, I have no special insight in tothe Wizards team dynamic, but from the outside, it appears Arenas is saying and doing all the right things. I’d like to think that the self-inflicted trauma from last year would have a positive affect on him. Gilbert knows he has no margin for error.

I think the Wizards should trade Arenas if they get a good offer that can help the team long term, but as long as he’s contributing to the team they shouldn’t take the first offer that comes along.

By Box Seats blogger  | October 8, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  | Tags:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  
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Next: Sitting in the stands, waiting for Green Bay


Good stuff. I don't think Gil's attitude will be a problem. Despite what Wilbon's hysterical overreaction might lead some to believe, Arenas seems just fine with his teammates. It's worth noting that when Arenas realized how his comments were being misinterpreted, he called over Mike Lee and clarified. I know Gil's been officially designated as a knucklehead, but he's actually a good guy. And he might still be able to play pretty well.

Posted by: KevinBroom | October 8, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

arenas should remaine a wizard,, it would be best if wilbon would change his address to another daily. and it would be good if wilbon would take m. tucker with him these two have never had the best intrest of washington sport fans or the district franchises at heart, tucker clearly hates arenas as is evident in his blog. wilbon is a pompos jerk, who never tells you any thing you did'nt already know his ''lol'' reports

Posted by: rwest828hope | October 8, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I love me some Gil. And thanks much for sticking it to Wilbon. Great post.

Posted by: Matte | October 8, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Gil is my boy. I think he will do well this year if he is completely healed. Hopefully he has matured because of all the mess he's been through. Don't think there will be an ego issue with him. I think all the "naysayers" will fuel that competitive spark in him.

Posted by: walt10 | October 9, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Well done.
Gil could easily be the soul of this team, I personal hope he does it just to spite Wilbon.

Post editors.
Trade Wilbon.

Posted by: dcperspective | October 9, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

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