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Flip Saunders addresses media scrutiny of Gilbert Arenas

In one of the more light-hearted moments during this afternoon's media day, Wizards Coach Flip Saunders was asked if Gilbert Arenas -- returning from a 50-game suspension and a month in a halfway house for bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room -- appeared angry, perhaps even bitter, in the wake of his tribulations from last season.

"I don't think anyone looks forward to talking to 50 people," Saunders joked. "You guys aren't the nicest guys in the world, so let's put it all in perspective."

Saunders then turned serious himself in addressing the state of the team's most recognized player, who over the past three seasons has played in just 47 games because of suspension and injuries.

"I think he's anxious like everybody else to step on the court tonight at 12:01 and start working and getting better," Saunders said of the Wizards' midnight madness practice at George Mason University's Patriot Center. "He's got a lot of things I think to prove to himself, also coming off his injuries and showing people how physically fit he is and [whether he's] ready to perform."

At his best, Arenas was among the handful of players in the NBA who commanded attention at the most crucial times after developing a penchant for hitting game-winning shots, many from long distance. But the past three seasons have been an exercise in staying on the court after knee surgeries and the well-documented gun incident that was part of a season that included a Saunders-issued one-game suspension of forward Andray Blatche and a roster purge that sent mainstays Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison to contending teams before the trade deadline.

Saunders said Arenas, who discarded his former No. 0 for a No. 9 jersey this season, reported to camp today in the best condition since averaging 28.4 points per game, the second most of his career, in 2006-07. The coach expects the three-time all-star to get along just fine with back-court mate John Wall, whom the Wizards selected with the No. 1 overall pick in June's NBA draft.

"I think right now he's by far in the best shape in the last three years as far as physically, weight-wise, how he looks, how his legs are," Saunders said. "I think he's worked extremely hard. He's very focused. I know he wants to go out and prove a lot of things. I think he's taking the right approach."

By Gene Wang  | September 27, 2010; 4:52 PM ET
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Next: The subdued Gilbert Arenas: "I just want to play"


Let the season unfold and let him be himself. We'll know soon enough if he's matured.

Posted by: bobabuie | September 27, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm kind of shocked by this extension for AB. Shocked primarily because I find it pretty reasonable on all sides. AB gets an early bump and a little more security based on his production from last year and from his dedication (if the stories are correct) from this summer.

At the same time, if he doesn't fully deliver on the promise from the end of last season, it's not the worst contract in the world for the Wizards, even if the league ends up switching to a hard cap.

I don't know if I'd call it "noble" like Larry, but it seems like a good deal for both sides.

And Larry, I too find it strange that you still seem to have issues with the Wiz when they finally do 'negotiate' with their players and show them a little love, which you have been calling for for awhile.

Posted by: ts35 | September 27, 2010 9:47 AM

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 27, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I don't get it.
There isn't really a downside to this story...but leave it to the guy who says we don't value our players or treat them complain when a player is given some good faith money when they don't even have to do it.

Some people just WANT to complain.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 27, 2010 11:01 AM

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 27, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

TS35 and SDMDTSU, granted on the surface it appears I dumping on the Wizards for this deal but in reality, I actually am not.

The reason why I insist that this was a noble deal by Andre is because he ended up settling for less than maybe an agent would have negotiated for but it also works for the Wizards because it does not hamstrung them when the projected hard cap hits.

I indicated that the Wizards very well know that this upcoming labor arbitration is going to be about cap considerations.

That being the case they may not have given Blatche a full MV deal that I am sure any agent would have asked for and you cannot fault them for this.

I also indicate that this deal in two years is not a sure lock on Andre because the price of it is workable in a hard cap league.

I am not throwing stones on the Wizards for this deal but rather indicating that this is the type of thing they should have been proactive doing in the past.

Surely, Andre may be worth 8-10m a year, but I like this deal, for Andre still has time for a max money contract when this deal ends, and it shows foresight by the Wizards in an anticipated hard cap League.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 27, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Midnight madness for a college team, fitting!

Posted by: Utilityman1 | September 27, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

I still haven't heard a cogent explanation of why people think Andray came out on the short end of this deal. I would have thought it was the Wiz who were taking the risk.

Posted by: Samson151 | September 27, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

"I would have thought it was the Wiz who were taking the risk."

Agree 100%

Blatche is a bigger risk to the Wiz then the other way around. What has Blatche done to prove he deserves that extension?

I emailed Ted right after that went down and complained he should wait to see how things go before signing anyone to anything. This was not a good team last year and he should be evaluating everyone including his GM.

This is what he said:

"Thanks Ray-- time will tell; you sure have a strong point of view about things; may I ask-- are you a season tix holder or have you ever been? Just checking? Thanks. Ted"

I told him when the Wiz get better I will get season tickets. :)

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | September 27, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Samson151, a foward at Dray's size and movement are hard to find. I am not sure what Dray was thinking but he came way too short of this deal and could get much more else where. I mean, what was the rush to making the deal? Maybe his injury is much worst than anyone thought and he decided to secure himself before his foot get worst? If it doesnt and if he have a monster year or two, he going to be really pissed with his contract.

By the way, is there a way I can watchthe wiz midnight maddness online? While I got cable, I do not subscribe nba channel. I wish comcast had pick up the idnight madness.

Posted by: demonj21 | September 27, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Flip said to the media, "you guys are not the nicest guys in the world." I am not sure about the nicest, but I can vouch for them not being the smartest. I speak to dozens of people daily about a sport (NBA only) I have followed with a fine-tooth comb for over 30 years, and 98% of them allow the media to think for them. The Arenas treatment has been atrocious. Not that I am condoning what happened last year, but my perception is that over 95% of media coverage dealt with the issue based on their "personal feelings" rather than the "real facts." I can site incident after incident in sports where players did not have to endure nothing like Arenas has. In fact one case (and I know you are aware of what I am speaking of) where a player should have been jailed for centuries for his continued immoral behaviour, but no one had the guts to vent their "personal feelings" about him because he happens to be one of the muckedy-mucks of the sport. Asa "qualified observer" of NBA basketball I cannot wait until Arenas has his best year in this campaign, and hopefully certain ones of you guys will not have run out of ink to write about his performance. I thank Michael Lee and Sekou Smith for having the guts to write something positive about Arenas.

Posted by: esmith4 | September 27, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

esmith4--Arenas almost got the treatment he deserved. He should have had his contract cancelled. There was nothing redeeming in his actions until after sentencing. He threatened, covered up and lied. Those are the facts. Now he has paid the dues given him and we accept him back. Do not rewrite history, he was guilty!!! Now let him play and give him our support, after all no one was killed (like with Ray Lewis). ----There will be a day, especially if Blatche is successful that he will try to pull a renegotiation. He will be told by his buddies he is worth more and he will pout for more money!!! Until then lets just enjoy the game.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | September 27, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Wait and see on Andray Blatche. Just curious. What are you waiting to see about Mr. Blatche rmcanzz?

Surely Mr. Blatche is worth more MV than he signed for, but have you read this demonj21?


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 27, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Overall, Washington has hit the restart button fairly successfully. New owner Ted Leonsis purchased the team from the family of Abe Pollin and appears to be taking a much more realistic approach to building it. The Wizards stayed out of the free-agent market despite having cap space, notably eschewing the quick-fix mentality the team employed the previous few seasons. The only eyebrow-raiser was his decision to retain general manager Ernie Grunfeld, whose serial mistakes got Washington here in the first place.

Thank You John Hollinger, Melodious has been preening around the blog a bit lately.

Posted by: closg | September 27, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"AB gets an early bump and a little more security based on his production from last year and from his dedication (if the stories are correct) from this summer."

Don't forget that foot injury. You know how nervous NBA types get around big men's feet. Of course he's allegedly completely healed. but....

Posted by: Samson151 | September 27, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

the stern gag is actually good for arenas and the wiz. it allows him the opportunity to re-introduce himself as a more mature and thoughtful person. i know people don't expect some people to grow and mature, but if you have children..that's what you do. you expect them to grow and mature, and they all do it at a different pace. if you survived youth and are now a successful adult, that's what happened. he paid his debt to society and now should be given the opportunity to redeem himself without the constant reminder of past transgression. he has to look in the mirror every morning, obviously he's not shaving the mug, and deal with being an adult for the rest of his life. that's what we do.

Posted by: joerutgens72 | September 27, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

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