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Ted Leonsis discusses Arenas situation

Amidst all the uncertainty surrounding his attempted purchase of the Washington Wizards, Ted Leonsis has--to the best of my knowledge--avoided talking about the Wizards' current problems. Thursday afternoon on 106.7's LaVar and Dukes program, though, Leonsis offered at least some vague thoughts on the situation, calling himself "more a healer than I am a breaker-upper."

To get into the issue, LaVar Arrington asked Leonsis whether his general business plan with the Capitals could translate into an NBA franchise, and how he might go about cleaning up the Wizards mess.

"Well, we're at a very sensitive time in discussions and the process, and so it's inappropriate for me to talk about specifics," Leonsis said. "But I will say Mr. Pollin was kind of the archetype of teaching owners that teams are a public trust. He was beloved in the city, he gave a lot back, and when you look at when something has gone off track, it's usually because that double bottom line was missed. Our--and when I say our, I guess I can say that, we own 44 percent of the [Wizards], we just don't run it--but the Wizards' biggest issue right now is that its franchise player, its best player is not happy right now. For numerous reasons. And he's a great person and a great player, but something got off track."

Arrington interjected to ask whether the mess can be repaired. LaVar specifically asked whether Gilbert's relationship with the Wizards could be repaired, but it sounded like in his response, Leonsis was talking more generally about the franchise's relationship with the community.

"I don't know how the story will end, but I'm certainly someone who deals with things [with] a very open mind," Leonsis replied. "I'm more a healer than I am a breaker-upper, right? And my belief is that Abe built something of great value that the city loves....So my belief is that this formula can work on any business, and I'm hopeful that we find a way to buy this [team] and close [the deal] and make everybody proud."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 12, 2010; 1:58 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media , Wizards  
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Comments

"but it sounded like in his response, Leonsis was talking more generally about the franchise's relationship with the community."

Not sure I agree with you on this Steinz. Leonsis is a very smart man, I don't think he'd put it in those words if he didn't mean he was talking specifically about Arenas. He wouldn't have gone on to talk about Arenas being a "great person" AND a "great player."

I think we just got our first clue as to what might happen when Leonsis takes over. And I like it.

Arenas stays.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 12, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of who owns or controls the franchise, if Arenas stays -- the Wizards are doomed to continuing failure for at least the duration of his stay, and probably much monger beyond that too.

While Ted may indeed be more of a healer than a breaker-upper, he must still deal with the resident cancer that is destroying any chance of ever fielding any semblance of a competitive pro basketball team in this town... and the best way to fight cancer is to cut it out and get rid of it, and as quickly as possible too.

Posted by: Vic1 | February 12, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Paraphrasing Ted Leonsis:

"I am not going to say or do anything that will upset the Pollin family until I have control of the Wizards and the Verizon Center. Then I will look to tear it all down and build the team back up from the bottom depths it has reached."

Posted by: leopard09 | February 12, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Vic, I'm surprised you're not calling for Leonsis to be fired...since, well, you have called for just about every other sports figure in this town to be fired. It must suck rooting for teams when you hate all their best players.

"the resident cancer that is destroying any chance of ever fielding any semblance of a competitive pro basketball team in this town"

Let's see, Pre-Arenas this franchise had 1 playoff appearance in nearly 2 decades. Once Arenas got here, they were in the playoffs 4 straight years, advancing to the 2nd round on one occasion and getting screwed out of advancing by the refs the next year. Arenas then suffered a knee injury, which could have happened to anyone and was not his fault--and the team has never been the same since.

But to call him a cancer who has "destroyed any chance of ever fielding any semblance of a competitive pro basketball team" is simply willful ignorance on your part. He is the reason we had competitive basketball teams here for several years to begin with.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 12, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

as a season ticket holder... there is zero chance I renew if the wizards do not void this contract.

If Gilbert was a free agent right now would you be interested in signing him to a 4 year 80.1 million dollar contract?? That is basically the decision that has to be made. Regardless of how/why it happened, how minor/major you believe the incident to be, Gilbert made a mistake that he was charged a felony for and, in all likelihood, will have him sitting in jail while the rest of the team plays the final 12 games of the season.

Even with the bulletproof NBA guaranteed contract I can not see how a player can be unavailable for 15% of the season and not be found in default of that contract. The wizards are well within their rights to end their relationship with Gil and deciding to keep him is the equivalent to resigning him to that 4 year 80.1 million deal mentioned above.

We have all seen our favorite football teams make tough decisions when it comes to players we are fond of. Decisions that are chalked up to "at some point business comes ahead of the sport". How has basketball, a sport that is being hurt much worse than football during these tough financial times, escaped this??

---------------

If the wizards dont void this contract... IF... I think the reasoning can be traced all the way back to the curse of les bullez. This team has been so bad for so long (5 playoff appearances in 22 seasons) they are afraid of returning to the cellar. After giving the city a taste of what its like to be a 6th-8th seed, one round playoff team they are afraid of going back. They would rather stay medium and keep up the mirage of a rivalry with the Clev Cavs than do what is really necessary; biting the bullet and rebuilding from the ground up like the Capitals.

Even if Grunfeld is able to dump Butler + Jamison for expiring contracts where do they do from there?? While the trades, theoretically, gives them enough cap room to sign a max level player it also leaves them with only 5 players on roster (arenas, young, mcgee, blatche, stevenson). Convincing any top level player to join that motley crew plus a handful of vet minimum players just isnt going to happen. So instead they are going to be forced into making the same bad decisions that the Detroit Pistons made last year. Overpaying 2nd/3rd tier free agents that ignore all of the reasons they shoudnt come to DC and are blinded by the chance of 1 last megadeal before the new CBA changes the overblown NBA economy as we know it.

What happens with Flip Saunders?? This team has already proven that they do not have the discipline or the chauncey billups-esque floor general to run his system. He was the wrong hire to begin with and by the time he is let go the right hire (avery "napolean" johnson) is going to be off the market.

twitter.com/dt3

Posted by: dthompson325 | February 12, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Like I say, you must deal with the issues at hand. The Arenas issue is destroying this team and the only way to make it go away is to make him go away.

We won't get a chance to replay some playoff series from an earlier year. Likewise, we can't bring back some of the real players from earlier teams who lived and breathed true integrity and character.

Nor should we keep this zero/loser on the payroll while we continue to ponder what might have been.

Posted by: Vic1 | February 12, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Contract can't be voided Dthompson. Or, at least it will be very, very difficult to void--and unprecedented if that move were to hold up against challenges.

I think a re-structuring is more likely. I am also one who believes Arenas can get back to the form he once had. He was about 75% of the way there this year and at times looked like he was closer to 90% there. The west coast trip he seemed to finally be getting his old self back. And then the gun issue happened.

But I think if Arenas were to get back to that form, which is not out of the question, the 20 million a year contract would be worth it. But I realize I am in the minority on this one.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 12, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

there is a big difference between being a competitive basketball team and a team that is actually a championship contending basketball team. No team with Gilbert Arenas (as we know him) will ever be a real championship contending team.

Ive hated those refs ever since they got psyched out by LeBron and missed those free thows... oh wait that was Gil. Well I have always hated the wizards medical team who mismanaged Gilbert's rehab... oh wait that was also Gil.

To call Gilbert a cancer is being generous. What else would you call a "team leader" who feels the need to search out the lowest totem pole on the team (JCritt) and try to (for lack of a better term) b!*$# him out in front of the rest of his team mates??

Posted by: dthompson325 | February 12, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

@Barno1 you are just regurgitating the same garbage that gilbert-apologists love to spread.

"Contract can't be voided Dthompson. Or, at least it will be very, very difficult to void--and unprecedented if that move were to hold up against challenges."

Now lets take a look at this word "precedent" that so many of you GA's have fallen in love with...

prec·e·dent (prs-dnt) n.
Law A judicial decision that may be used as a standard in subsequent similar cases

Assuming this is the "subsequent similar case(s)" why dont you provide me with the original decision that sets this "precedent". A situation where a player not only has been charged with a felony, but committed the felony on league property, and in turn misses 15% of the season while serving a prison sentence for said felony.

------------

If Gilbert's contract cant be voided why would he ever restructure the deal?? He has no incentive to. His contract is bulletproof (according to you) and he believed that the organization sold him down the river. Now he is going to start doing them favors out of the goodness of his heart?? Not "hey, heres a sweaty jersey" type favors but "hey, heres 25-30 million dollars that according to barno1 i dont have to give you" type favors.

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IF arenas were able to get back to his old form he would be able to lead us to 42-44 wins and the 1st MAAAAYBE 2nd round of the playoffs. And thats worth 20 million dollars?? Allan Houston called... he said thats insane.

--------

Now lets look at what the wizards front office has said so far about the situation (voiding)... Nothing past Leonsis's (purposely) vague comments from yesterday. If they did NOT plan on voiding lets take a look at the positives of making that be known immediately..

1) It reaches out to a player who thinks he has been burned by the club,
2) It lets other teams who think we are going to cut him free know they need to make their offers now,

Despite these facts there has been no word (either way) on whether they plan to void the contract. Now lets take a look at the effects of announcing immediately they plan to void his contract after sentencing

1) Gives Gilbert's legal team months of preparation time to find loopholes in an open/shut case (you were contracted to come to work. you didnt come to work.)

Their silence tells the whole story.

Posted by: dthompson325 | February 12, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

But I realize I am in the minority on this one.

Posted by: Barno1


If you read all the blogs and talk shows (locally) only the diehard folk do not see what you & a large number of supporters feeling what you feel!

Posted by: bossclifnpooh2 | February 12, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Ted had to be very diplomatic in his choice of words. Mr. Polin did a tremendous amount of good for D.C., but continuing to own, and head up the Wizards was not one of the good things. "THE BUCK STOPS AT THE TOP" and all the bad that has gone on with this team since 1980 or so..has to be laid at Mr. Polin`s feet.
Does anyone think this team would have won many more games if Arenas had been playing the whole year? Arenas does not play defense like a super star. Defense in general has been this team`s achilles heel
for years. There is no one close to being a defensive stopper on the team, which is why they loose so many games late in the fourth quarter.
I would keep Haywood..as he has become a pretty decent center. without him..you have Blache or McGee...being the main big man...scary! Along with Haywood, keep Miller, Foye, Young, and other role players as needed. Try to get a high draft pick(s) for Jamison, and/or Butler. Arenas is done in D.C., if the contract cannot be voided..a trade (Washington probably having to pay part of his salary). The other option..a buy out. The lawyers will have to sort all that out..and it will happen after Arenas is sentenced.

Posted by: blazerguy234 | February 12, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Lots of owner are of the snotty type. I'm overjoyed that Ted Leonsis is not of that type.

Please visit my blog at www.thedcsportsscene.blogspot.com

Posted by: Dlewis10 | February 12, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

It seems obvious that if Leonsis is already 41% owner than he is being consulted and has a lot of influence to what happens with trades. It doesn't sound like they are going to do anything rash and blow up this team. It also sounds like Gilbert has a chance at rehabilitation with Leonsis. I would agree mostly with this approach I think it would be a genius move to keep Gilbert. I would move Butler for the right player. Iguadala would seem likely, nice player who is a free agent next year and the Eddie Jordan connection. Jameson has been slumping the last 10 games or so, but I think you need to see how he finishes out the season and look to trade him over the summer. Haywood has to stay. Wizards cannot afford to be without him this year. He is free agent, so they might not be able to keep him next year. If not the Wizards will need to land a serious center over the summer. Also the rest of the season will be a audition for the rest of the group . As it looks now it doesn't appear Flip will want many of them on his team next year.

Posted by: bobilly2 | February 12, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the relationship with Gilbert can be healed. The bigger problem is he can't get the job done. If the Wizards are stuck with him for four years it'll be four years at or near the bottom. The rest of the team has to buy into doing it Agent Zero way, and that's over.

Posted by: milfordone | February 12, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Milfordone, I don't agree about your assesment of Gilbert. He gave us 4 to 5 rebounds a game and over 7 assists which is higher than his carreer ave. He still blows by any defender. I don't think he was the problem at all with this offense. After a long latoff , I think he was definately getting better the more he played.

Posted by: bobilly2 | February 12, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Another thing to consider is that Leonsis isn't going to further alienate Arenas for no reason in a radio interview.

Leonsis doesn't yet know whether he will be able to void Arenas' contract or do a buy-out or trade, so he would be rash to diss a guy he may have to deal with for the next several years.

Posted by: acoberst1 | February 12, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Milfordone, I don't agree about your assesment of Gilbert. He gave us 4 to 5 rebounds a game and over 7 assists which is higher than his carreer ave. He still blows by any defender. I don't think he was the problem at all with this offense. After a long latoff , I think he was definately getting better the more he played.

Posted by: bobilly2 | February 12, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I can tell you watch most if not all Wiz games. So many casual Wiz fans out there that really do not have any idea where Arenas was in his comeback when the gun issue happened and yet they are commenting on his on the court abilities without really knowing.

Not saying there aren't plenty of diehard Wiz fans that don't think he'll ever be what he used to be, but definitely feel as though those that watch most/all of the Wiz games are much more likely to think Arenas can still be the player he once was.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 12, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Another thing to consider is that Leonsis isn't going to further alienate Arenas for no reason in a radio interview.

Leonsis doesn't yet know whether he will be able to void Arenas' contract or do a buy-out or trade, so he would be rash to diss a guy he may have to deal with for the next several years.

Posted by: acoberst1 | February 12, 2010 8:22 PM

True, but he brought it up and didn't have to say anything at all if he wasn't thinking it.

Posted by: bobilly2 | February 12, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Like I say, you must deal with the issues at hand. The Arenas issue is destroying this team and the only way to make it go away is to make him go away.

We won't get a chance to replay some playoff series from an earlier year. Likewise, we can't bring back some of the real players from earlier teams who lived and breathed true integrity and character.

Nor should we keep this zero/loser on the payroll while we continue to ponder what might have been.

Posted by: Vic1 | February 12, 2010 3:01 PM


I don't see how the Arenas issue is destroying this team. These are professionals. I think the only thing it does is give too many guys, too many excuses for not playing well and not being part of the system. Losers look for excuses and winners fight thru adversity. I like Mike Millers attitude. Arenas has historically been one of the hardest working players in the NBA. He will work hard to revive his career. I'm not sure who else I can say that about on the Wizards (maybe Haywood) Also, who else are you going to get to replace him? Who is better that will cost us less. Who on the Wizards can take his place?

Posted by: bobilly2 | February 12, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Don't listen to Barno, he has no clue what he is talking about.

Ever.

Barno seems to forget they actually made the playoffs without Gilbert one year. Even his own coach, Eddie Jordan, doubted Gilbert could ever be a "leader."

Then he played with guns and pleaded GUILTY to a felony. I love how he leaves that part out.

Anyway, Gil can be a contributor in the NBA but as many people on Mike Lee's blog have said over the years (I said YEARS, not days) he is NOT someone you can build your franchise around.

Funny how I NEVER saw Barno there until theis whole thing with Gilbert and gunz came about.

Gilbert is going to be traded. Why? Because it's too late to heal anything and too many bridges have been burned. Ted has to say the right things now because he knows when he buys the rest of the team he is going to at some point be able to sign FA's and if he looks like a putz no one will ever want to come to Washington the way "Barno come lately" is always wrong.

Gil will never play in a Wiz uni again and EG will at some point be fired as well.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 12, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

This is the Wizards, right? We already know what they will do. They will hang on to Grunfeld. Then he will try to get one more playoff run out of the "Big???" three. No deals will be made. Ted! Don't buy this mess. It is unfixable. Pollin saw to that. That big banner on the Verizon Center of Pollin smiling down on us -- he's not smiling. He's laughing his a$$ off.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | February 12, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Don't listen to Barno, he has no clue what he is talking about.

Ever.

Barno seems to forget they actually made the playoffs without Gilbert one year. Even his own coach, Eddie Jordan, doubted Gilbert could ever be a "leader."

Then he played with guns and pleaded GUILTY to a felony. I love how he leaves that part out.

Anyway, Gil can be a contributor in the NBA but as many people on Mike Lee's blog have said over the years (I said YEARS, not days) he is NOT someone you can build your franchise around.

Funny how I NEVER saw Barno there until theis whole thing with Gilbert and gunz came about.

Gilbert is going to be traded. Why? Because it's too late to heal anything and too many bridges have been burned. Ted has to say the right things now because he knows when he buys the rest of the team he is going to at some point be able to sign FA's and if he looks like a putz no one will ever want to come to Washington the way "Barno come lately" is always wrong.

Gil will never play in a Wiz uni again and EG will at some point be fired as well.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 12, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

First of all, I have been commenting on the Wizards blog since day 1. Just ask former Wiz beat reporter Ivan Carter.

Second of all, I did not leave the gun part out. I mentioned it on this blog yesterday at 3:10 p.m. ("And then the gun issue happened")

Third of all, they did not make the playoffs without Gil one year. This is re-writing history. Arenas was a part of the team's run early in the season overcoming the 0-5 start, then underwent a second surgery and sat out several months, but he came back with roughly a month to go in the season, helping the team to beat Boston and Cleveland among others down the stretch. He also played in all but the last 2 playoff games in the Cleveland series that year.

Go back and look at the box scores if you can't remember back that far old timer. Sure, the team did well during his absence that year--leading many fans to speculate that the team was better off without him. But those comments from those fans hilariously disappeared when the Wizards fell to 19 wins last year without Arenas.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 13, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

barno1-You dont seem to get the point. Most people know that Arenas can and will get back to the big scoring offensive machine. They also know he will run down the court and take a play busting 40 footer with twenty seconds on the shot clock. He will commit a turnover. He will drive the coach crazy by not following the coaches directions. Sometimes he will drain the long shot other times he will lead his teammates into trying the same kind of crazy shots. Eventually they just throw the playbook out the window and play playground ball. Arena is an offensive talent and the one you want to take the shot with one second on the clock, but dont give him the ball with the shotclock full of time. He does not play winning basketball, he plays entertaining basketball. We,the fans, want to see a winner.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | February 13, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

barno1- Not trying to put you down. Gilbert wasnt the only injured Wizard last year. With their only big man with any experience injured you had the makings of a fall off ready to happen. Then they fired their long term coach and lost their leadership there. Arenas would not have made that 19 win season better, and that can be proved by the performance of the team this season with the upgrades in players and coaching. Gilberts play did not inspire confidence that the team was improving this season. It takes a team to win a championship. Just look at LeBron, Kobe, and Wade. They need teammates to win consistenly, and they need to play within the system their coach develops. Individual play does not work in a team sport. There has never, ever, been one player that could win a championship doing it their way instead of the team way.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | February 13, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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