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Posted at 2:37 PM ET, 12/19/2010

Wizards' divorce from Gilbert Arenas was inevitable

By Michael Lee

I just hope that you miss me a little when I'm gone. (Photo by John McDonnell/Washington Post)


Don't get too caught up with what the Wizards received or didn't receive for Gilbert Arenas on Saturday because acquiring Rashard Lewis from the Orlando Magic was not the primary goal in this endeavor. This was all about creating a clean slate for the rebuilding process, and realizing an exodus that was months overdue.

Arenas no longer wanted to be in Washington and, after the Wizards lucked up and got John Wall with the No. 1 pick, they no longer needed Arenas around -- despite owner Ted Leonsis's pledges to the contrary. The relationship between the two sides unofficially ended back in January, when Arenas received his 50-game suspension for bringing guns into the locker room and the team yanked down his banner from the Sixth Street side of Verizon Center.

The franchise was moving on. Arenas felt betrayed by an organization he that had provided with so much -- in the form of entertainment and, at times, exhilarating basketball -- and Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld felt the same about a player on whom he risked his reputation, and possibly career, by handing him a six-year, $111-million contract in the summer of 2008.

A divorce was inevitable; Arenas had expressed his desire to leave to those close to him for several months. So when he arrived at media day looking like Tom Hanks from Cast Away, it should have served as the first sign of discord. He was upset and those sullen, bearded photos didn't do much to help the team promote him and his fourth return to a somewhat-jaded fan base.

In the weeks that followed, Arenas tried to make it work (he looked decent in the first three preseason games), then didn't (he "faked" an injury for fear of fans' reaction to him, or to help Nick Young, or something), tried again (he averaged more than 20 points over a nine-game stretch in November), then didn't (check the December stats). He struggled with his role coming off the bench, had difficulty playing off the ball, and never seemed comfortable, leaving the Wizards in a difficult predicament.

Leonsis tried to bring back Arenas into the fold. He met with him, joked with him, publicly supported and praised Arenas, understanding the fragile psyche of his highest-paid and most recognizable player. Leonsis was genuinely fond of Arenas, but in the end, even that wasn't enough to engage the three-time all-star.

Arenas and the Wizards were like an emotionally-detached married couple that was unable to legally separate because of the economic downturn. They lived in the same house and slept in different beds, but only because they couldn't afford to do anything else. The disconnect created some awkward, uncomfortable moments.

Arenas's demeanor, shot selection and aggressiveness changed after he scored a season-high 31 points against Orlando on Nov. 27. That game can now be viewed as an informal audition for Magic general manager and his good friend Otis Smith, possibly the only front office executive who was willing to take a chance on him. Over his last nine games, the Wizards never saw anything close to that player as they continued to lose and Arenas became more distant.

Smith contacted the Wizards last week to see if they were still interested in making a deal. The Wizards had never stopped shopping Arenas, and were hoping that Smith would take him off of their hands around the NBA draft. Smith's call came as a relief, because it gave the Wizards a chance to get out from under an albatross of a contract that most deemed immobile.

According to a league source, the Wizards immediately began scouting Lewis to make sure that there was enough there with the 31-year-old jump-shooting forward to make a deal. Lewis makes more money than Arenas this season and next season, but only $10 million of his contract in 2012-13 is guaranteed.

Of course, the Wizards would have rather had Vince Carter's more attractive, expiring deal, but they were ready to move, especially after this past week, when Arenas had a poor shooting night against the Lakers and a lethargic effort in the first half against New Jersey, where the Wizards trailed the Nets by 23 points.

Trade talks heated up the next day, with the Wizards taking the best offer they could get at this time. "The opportunity presented itself this week, and opportunities don't come along that often in the NBA," Grunfeld said before the Wizards played the Heat on Saturday night. "We looked at it, we studied it and we felt like it was the right time to make this move in the best interest of the team, short term and long term."

The Wizards weren't going to get "equal value" -- or whatever that may be -- at this time. And, unless they were willing to take back Baron Davis -- which they weren't -- the Wizards couldn't find another comparable point guard in the deal. So they had to settle on adding another forward to a team that is now overwhelmed at the position, with the return of Josh Howard. They will have to find a point guard in the upcoming days, with a bone bruise on John Wall's right knee keeping him sidelined for likely the next week or so.

Arenas lifted the Wizards from the lottery to an exciting playoff contender, and left it a lottery team on the rebound. Arenas brought fun, threw a $1 million party with Diddy, wrote a groundbreaking blog that welcomed fans into the world of an elite athlete like never before. He connected with fans like few others, with a jersey toss here or funny joke there. He did good deeds in the community and better deeds on the court. He was pure entertainment; he even dunked off a trampoline at an all-star game.

When Arenas was at his best, he was among the best, a dedicated hard worker who pushed himself into stardom, proving to doubters that he was much more than a zero. But as quickly as he reached nearly all that he desired -- besides postseason success -- Arenas had it taken away.

That fateful night when Charlotte's Gerald Wallace fell on Arenas's left knee changed everything for Arenas and the Wizards franchise. He came back, got hurt, came back, got hurt, nearly sat out a year, came back, then brought guns. Professional athlete or not, finding the mental strength to keep coming back from adversity is a challenge.

In his last 53 games with the Wizards, Arenas was healthy and the team went 15-38. He could drop 20 points on occasion, but he lacked that usual burst, that explosive first step that made him so thrilling to watch.

And the fallout from the gun incident ended his faith in the organization. Arenas rarely seemed to have that joy with basketball this season, but that happiness, that smile, should return more often than not in Orlando. He's in a comfortable place, back in the state of his birth, surrounded by friends Smith and Jason Richardson, surrounded by a playoff team with the best big man in the NBA.

He'll likely never be Hibachi again, but he will still have his moments. He'll have his nights and may even win another playoff series or two. But D.C. fans will likely know that they got the best of Arenas, and unfortunately, the worst.

After the Wizards lost in Sacramento a few weeks ago, Arenas lamented that players change teams all the time, sounding resigned to the fact that he would eventually be gone from the Wizards. He compared life in the NBA to being a leaf on tree: You grow, you fade, then you fall. Arenas said that he would eventually be forgotten, just like one of those leaves.

I have a hard time seeing that happen here. In seven-plus years, he left behind so many memories for a fan base so starved for any kind of success that it tightly embraced every amount of hope that Arenas provided. But it was time for a divorce. It just was.

By Michael Lee  | December 19, 2010; 2:37 PM ET
Categories:  Gilbert Arenas  
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Next: Rashard Lewis to debut tonight

Comments

They will have to find a point guard in the upcoming days, with a bone bruise on John Wall's right knee keeping him sidelined for likely the next week or so.

I thought it was tendinitis.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 19, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Don't get too caught up with what the Wizards received or didn't receive for Gilbert Arenas...This was all about creating a truly clean slate for the rebuilding process?

Then why not get a draft pick since it was Smith who contacted the Wizards last week to see if they were still interested in making a deal.

Let's see Ernie brought in Gil, CB, AJ and DS to try and win a championship and didn't get close...now he traded them for "Don't get too caught up with what the Wizards received" for them?

I guess 5 years from now we'll see if Ernie knows what he's doing.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Don't get too caught up with what the Wizards received or didn't receive for Gilbert Arenas...This was all about creating a truly clean slate for the rebuilding process?

Then why not get a draft pick since it was Smith who contacted the Wizards last week to see if they were still interested in making a deal.

Let's see Ernie brought in Gil, CB, AJ and DS to try and win a championship and didn't get close...now he traded them for "Don't get too caught up with what the Wizards received" for them?

I guess 5 years from now we'll see if Ernie knows what he's doing.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 19, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

There is always a story behind the story. Thanks for the information, Michael. Thanks for the memories, Gil.

Posted by: syvetteavery | December 19, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Here's Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated on the trade:

"Most teams would have refused to take on the three-year, $63.4 million owed to Lewis (though his $22.7 million salary in 2012-13 could be pared down to a $10 million guarantee if he fails to reach incentives through 2011-12). But the Wizards saved money on the deal while ending their troublesome relationship with Arenas and liberating rookie point guard John Wall to become the franchise leader. Instead of merely dumping Arenas' salary, the Wizards will benefit from the experience and mismatch abilities created by Lewis, a two-time All-Star and renowned last-second shot maker."

"For Phoenix, its role in Orlando's big day liberates the Suns from having to make a difficult decision on whether to re-sign Richardson on the eve of a new collective bargaining agreement. The Suns have also escaped their four-year, $45 million commitment to Turkoglu by packaging Earl Clark in the exchange for Carter, 6-11 center Marcin Gortat (who provides much-needed size), guard Mickael Pietrus, a first-round pick and $3 million."

"Should Orlando attempt to upgrade its frontline, its most valuable trading piece now figures to be Jason Richardson, who is not only averaging 19.3 points per game (and shooting 41.9 percent from the three-point line) but is also in the final year of a contract paying him $14.4 million this year. They could package him in a deal for size, which would probably force Orlando to take on extra money for the long term."

Posted by: Samson151 | December 19, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Charlotte is 2 and 5 in their last 7 games, beating the Nuggets and Raptors and posting losses to Philly, Indy, Boston, Memphis and Atlanta. Couple of those losses have been Wizards-style turkeys: by 19 to the Sixers, 31 to the Celts, and 33 to the Grizzlies. The two wins have been by 2 over Denver and 6 over Toronto.

Ouch. I'm now trying to figure out how Flip got to coach Charlotte during those ugly losses. You know darn well no Larry Brown team would ever get embarrassed.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 19, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Excellent report Michael Lee!!!

I was one who proclaimed and believed that Gilbert Arenas "was not going anywhere", and believe he still would be a Wizard now and for the foreseeable future had he come back and performed up to his capabilities -- on and off the court. I believe Ted Leonsis had every intention of retaining Gilbert's services if that were the case. He likely had a change of heart as it became more apparent that Gilbert was unwilling or unable to meet the benchmarks established for him. That may prove an unsettling dichotomy for some, but I don't believe Ted Leonsis statements were an effort to mislead or misdirect from underlying intentions to rid the Wizards of Gilbert and his accompanying baggage, as some have stated or implied. Ted Leonsis is a smart and accomplished person, and by published accounts, a person of great integrity. As such, his definitive statements can be taken at face value in my estimation. In my opinion, it is wise to consider his right to not be governed by absolutes and modify positions or strategy based on variable data are implied in those statements.

Personally, I came to accept and actually desire Gilbert's departure from the organization as it became apparent he wanted out. I wish Gilbert would have taken more responsibility for his actions and come back with an attitude to regain the trust of the organization and fans, but he chose otherwise. Alas, I wish him well but some of my fan appreciation and enthusiasm for him was lost in this whole process.

Posted by: bazookajoe1 | December 19, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld felt the same about a player on whom he risked his reputation, and possibly career, by handing him a six-year, $111-million contract in the summer of 2008.

and we now know how that moved worked out and there are some people on here that believe he can turn this team around?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 19, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

If the team was winning, then finding PT for Rashard would be more of an issue.

What bothers me is that every minute Rashard is on the floor is a minute that Booker (or Seraphin) is not gaining experience on this rebuilding club. I mentioned before that Blatche was laughing today about Booker headed to the DLeague, if it's true...a real shame that having to move Arenas also resulted in possibly setting Booker's development back by a season. Or two. Guess we'll see.

Posted by: divi3 | December 19, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Beautifully written...I will miss Gil

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | December 19, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

now if Grund will just get rid of that loafing, non jumping, no defense playing, stupidest player i've ever seen Blatche(fouls Bosh on 3 point shot). Maybe ww'll get somewhere

Posted by: jreed63 | December 19, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Why would Lewis's arrival result in Booker going to the D-League? It might cut into his PT, but given the complete difference in their styles, the premium coaches put on guys who give all out effort, and the fact that Booker has proven his ability to contribute, sending him to the D-League wouldn't make any sense. This organization has had much use for the D-League before, so it seems unlikely they'd decide to use it know for a guy who doesn't seem to have a huge need for it. Moreover, if there were plans to send them down, how the hell would Blatche know? It's highly unlikely that Flip and Ernie had him sit in on the meeting.

If Blatche was making jokes about guys getting sent down, I'm more inclined to believe it was just guys needling each other in practice. Or Blatche just being a dick.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 19, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Make that" "This organization hasn't had much use for the D-League before

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 19, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Ge trid of Blatche and send Flip with him!! What happened to hinrich I thought he was a good shooter! Must be that Wiz curse

Posted by: jreed63 | December 19, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Good write-up Mike, and best of luck to you Gil. Thanks for the memories

Posted by: bullets8890 | December 19, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Why would Lewis's arrival result in Booker going to the D-League?

They gotta sign a PG right? I was thinking Gee would be cut, but another option is to send at least one guy to the D. N'Diaye makes sense, Booker doesnt. However if it's safe to assume that Rashard is going to be getting 30-35mins....that could reduce Booker's PT to nada right? Becomes a case of is it better to play in the DLeague or watch the Show

Posted by: divi3 | December 19, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

It's more like Arenas didn't want to play for Saunders. Who can blame him. Watch the exodus as current Wizards contracts come up for free agency.

Posted by: bobilly1 | December 19, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Who else can we trade for????? (MIH=Make It Happen)
Kenyon MartinPF(Nuggets)-MIH
Patrick MillsPG(Portland)-MIH
R.Fernandez(Portland)
N.Batum(Portland)*-MIH
J.Crawford for CapKirk?(ATL-Wiz)
Varejao(Cavs)-MIH
S.Telfair(Wolves)-MIH
W.Ellington(Wolves)
C.Brewer(Wolves)*-MIH
M.Belinelli(Hornets)
C.Budinger(Rockets)*
T.Williams(Rockets)*-MIH
J.Green(Thunder)*-MIH
T.Young(Philly)*
Iguodala(Philly)*-MIH
Nocioni(Philly)*
*Damn all these swing players

Posted by: nikesupastar05 | December 19, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

"They gotta sign a PG right? I was thinking Gee would be cut, but another option is to send at least one guy to the D."

Except that's not an option. Players sent to the D-League are still counted as part of the team's roster limit, so sending Booker, N'Diaye, or anyone else to the D-League wouldn't open up a roster spot for a FA signee. The only way to do that is to cut someone (or pull off a two for one trade, but that's not happening).

"However if it's safe to assume that Rashard is going to be getting 30-35mins....that could reduce Booker's PT to nada right? Becomes a case of is it better to play in the DLeague or watch the Show"

Posted by: divi3 | December 19, 2010 4:54 PM

It's safe to assume anything here because there are no actual consequences to being wrong. But just because it's safe doesn't mean it's accurate. Someone will lose minutes at the PF spot upon Lewis's arrival. There's hardly any guarantee, however, that the only (or even primary) person affected will be Booker.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 19, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Gil, how about SOMETHING - a shoutout, a comment, a letter ala Caron - to show appreciation for the DC fans who stayed with you while you were acting the total fool? How about something for the people who kept faith in you?

You can hate Ernie and Irene Polin all you want - that's fine. But the fact is you messed up repeatedly and royally, and many of us still supported you and defended you, even though we obviously didn't know you. I wore my Arenas jersey at times during your suspension to show solidarity, and I'm sure there were many who did similar things. And you can't even take a second to say "Thanks, and sorry again for being such a dumbazz, but the ride was fun when it lasted, and I'll always have a place in my heart for DC. Peace." Seriously, Gil. Take the time to say that. There will be plenty of time later in the season for you to be the 4th banana in Orlando.

Posted by: Urnesto | December 19, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Well done Michael Lee. Probably one of your best blog posts.

Posted by: azinat1 | December 19, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"Who else can we trade for????? (MIH=Make It Happen)

Kenyon MartinPF(Nuggets)-MIH
Patrick MillsPG(Portland)-MIH
R.Fernandez(Portland)
N.Batum(Portland)*-MIH
J.Crawford for CapKirk?(ATL-Wiz)
Varejao(Cavs)-MIH
S.Telfair(Wolves)-MIH
W.Ellington(Wolves)
C.Brewer(Wolves)*-MIH
M.Belinelli(Hornets)
C.Budinger(Rockets)*
T.Williams(Rockets)*-MIH
J.Green(Thunder)*-MIH
T.Young(Philly)*
Iguodala(Philly)*-MIH
Nocioni(Philly)*
*Damn all these swing players"

Posted by: nikesupastar05 | December 19, 2010 5:03 PM

And, as always:

Why would any of those teams trade any of those players for anything the Wizards have to offer? (And, as a corollary, why the hell would the Wiz want Kenyon Martin?)

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 19, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Arenas is another athlete like Haynesworth that acts like an infant and then expects people to feel sorry for him.

Injuries are a part of the game and obviously not his fault, but HOW he returned to the Wizards AFTER the injuries and HOW he conducted himself, ie in a very immature and self-destructive fashion, is on HIM alone.

There is no team responsibility there.

He sulked about losing his place as the #1 show in DC but going to Orlando he is simply going to be 'one of the guys'.

But at this point that was probably more palatable to him than having to face 18,000 Washington fans with the knowledge that he had not done ALL he could to be a leader here and show the way for his teammates in a time of upheaval.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | December 19, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Great post, as usual, Mike Lee!

As for Gil's departure, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, Gil made Wizards basketball exciting. When Gil got injured in the spring of 2007, the Wizards were the #1 team in the East. (I know right? Seems like forever ago; almost like it never happened. But I remember how electric the Phone Booth was between 2004-2008. Those were some fun teams to watch.) At his peak, Gil led this team to heights unimaginable.

On the other hand, the injuries, the contract, the immature behavior, the gun situation all combined to overshadow, and diminish the good times. It was time for a separation.

I wish Gil all the best. I hope he finds his redemption, one jumpshot at a time. Maybe he'll finally get the best of LeBron this time around. But I can't shake this nagging feeling that Gil chose to run from the mess he created, rather than own up to it, and lead this organization back to prominence. At one point, Gil held this town in the palm of his hand. Now, all we Wizards fans have to show for our faith in Gil is Rashard freakin Lewis... What a waste.

Posted by: MEssex | December 19, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Best of luck Gilbert. Hope it works out for you.
Meanwhile, us Washington fans are on yet another 2 to 3 year wait to see if we can be competitive.
All tolled, that's around 28 years and counting...

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 19, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Well as much as i didn't want it to happen it was an inevitable fact that GIL had to go given his play or lack thereof Gilbert Arenas wanted out of DC badder than Ray Charles wanted to see. The Gil i want to remember is the jump shooting machine who could put this Wizards team on his back and will them into the playoffs. The Gil i want to remember had back to back killer games during a west coast swing where he had Kobe Bryant and coach Mike D'Antoni talking to themselves after dropping 60+ and 50+ against LA & Pho. respectively, he was the reason i went out and spent hundred's of dollars on Wizard hats,jersey's and shirts for my grandchildren. I hated the fact that Gil got himself into trouble last season over what i always like to call stupid s_ht things that common sense should overide a normal thinking person's penchant for getting themselves into trouble. Gilbert Arenas gives Orlando a legit shot at getting to the conference finals, he and Jason Richardson along with Nelson and Dwight Howard are going to be a force; so good luck Gil and take care and oh yeah thanks for the memories.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 19, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Good one Mike Lee!
I'm gonna root for you in the playoffs Gil.

I'm gonna miss him.
He was a lot of different things but he was interesting.
Funny how a team plays when their star leaves.
We all know that the Wizzies can't play like they did against the Heat regularly but it sure was fun to watch.

I think Booker will still get his minutes. You can't keep a guy with that energy on the bench.

Posted by: VBFan | December 19, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

In the famous words of the Great Lebron James, "I will reserve comment on Gil and the Mike Lee posting until a later date".

Posted by: zack9633 | December 19, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

However if it's safe to assume that Rashard is going to be getting 30-35mins....that could reduce Booker's PT to nada right?

Unless Blatche's knee balloons up again, that seems like a lot of minutes. We don't even know if Lewis can play the 4 on a team that plays as much zone as the Wizards do. Without a dominant center it may be best to leave him on the perimeter. That would make Thornton the hardest hit in PT. But if Rashard does end up playing a lot of 4, I'm betting that some folks will gain more respect for Jamison.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 19, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This is a classic example of a sports franchise making decisions based on media pressure and listening to beatwriters. The gun incident was overblown and should not have caused a franchise to blow up its team. They succumbed to the media pressure. Never draft or build your team based on what the sports media says. They are like sheep when jumping on stories and are often wrong.

Posted by: tramellcanady | December 19, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Now; back to basketball, The fact that EG gave The Serial Skirt Chaser an extension only reinforces my opinion that The Three Stooges (Flip,Ernie & Andray) need to go ASAP! Last nigh't meltdown against the Heat should make everyone realize that Flip really isn't qualified to be an NBA coach and that Blatche should be banished to the D-league YES that's exactly what i said the D-league the lack of court awareness by Blatche is a direct result of the serial skirt chaser's lack of basketball IQ . The stupidity displayed by Blatche in the fourth quater was mind boggling if he wasn't dribbling the ball off his leg or going behind his back in traffic (his signature move) then he was commiting stupid fouls that kept Miami in the game. Andray is the classic underachiever had he gone to college he might be a smarter player but i doubt it he's been in the league 3-4 and he is as dumb now as he was then and judging by the lack of coaching in the final two minutes so is Flip.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 19, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Now; back to basketball, The fact that EG gave The Serial Skirt Chaser an extension only reinforces my opinion that The Three Stooges (Flip,Ernie & Andray) need to go ASAP! Last nigh't meltdown against the Heat should make everyone realize that Flip really isn't qualified to be an NBA coach and that Blatche should be banished to the D-league YES that's exactly what i said the D-league the lack of court awareness by Blatche is a direct result of the serial skirt chaser's lack of basketball IQ . The stupidity displayed by Blatche in the fourth quater was mind boggling if he wasn't dribbling the ball off his leg or going behind his back in traffic (his signature move) then he was commiting stupid fouls that kept Miami in the game. Andray is the classic underachiever had he gone to college he might be a smarter player but i doubt it he's been in the league 3-4 and he is as dumb now as he was then and judging by the lack of coaching in the final two minutes so is Flip.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 19, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, Michael Lee is the worst. Guy is just a complete and utter imbecile. How he is employed at the Post is beyond me.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 19, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Very Very Circus

Javale McGee and Henry Threadgill

Posted by: djnnnou | December 19, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Um, fiddlesticks, me gosh, durn it, where in the world is my Orlando Majic schedule at?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 19, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

"Unless Blatche's knee balloons up again, that seems like a lot of minutes. We don't even know if Lewis can play the 4 on a team that plays as much zone as the Wizards do."

Posted by: djnnnou | December 19, 2010 8:41 PM

Don't see why guarding 4s in a zone would be any more difficult than guarding them in man-to-man, which he's been doing for years (with admittedly mixed results), esp. since one of the primary purposes of the zone is to cover for individual defenders' deficiencies. Moreover, if he can't guard 4's in a zone then he sure as hell won't be able to guard 3s further out on the perimeter.

Lewis's skill set most overlaps those of Yi and Blatche (except he has more range on his jumper), which makes them the most likely to be impacted by his arrival. My guess is Lewis shaves of a few of Blatche's minutes (and gives Saunders an option for a quick hook when Blatche struggles) and that if/when Yi returns from injury, he's the odd man out.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 19, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: daigunder | December 19, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I never "predicted" anything. I pretty much never make predictions because, unlike seemingly most around here, I'm not actually in possession of a crystal ball that predicts the future. I did say that I wouldn't be surprised if Young was playing in Europe next season, and outlined some reasons why/scenarios how. But that's not the same thing as a prediction. (However, I will point out that Young's numbers on the season aren't terribly dissimilar from Josh Childress's numbers the season before he went overseas. Just sayin'.)

Posted by: kalo_rama December 19th, 2010

Nick Young is gonzo after this season (if not before). Wouldn't be surprised to see him playing overseas next season.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 26, 2010 5:26 PM

Posted by: spades72 | December 20, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

My last post on Gil will be; what else could he do to make it up to the smart- aleck crybabies in Washington. He stepped aside, played his best, even if it was not great and caused no problems. A missed exhibition game is not a problem in my mind, and it helped Young keep a job. Blatche is a lazy idiot. Full of talent, actually played hard LAST night, then did exactly what I told my wife we couldn't do, he fouled on a 3 point shot, IDIOT. Josh Howard played good for being rusty. Saunders is going to continue to be a sorry coach. Maybe Arenas was glad to leave the atmosphere in Washington, IDK, but he's certainly has the right the way this city treats its players, along with the sportswriters. These have to be the dumbest fans in the country. Yes they let him play on the team again and then ran him down every chance they got. Obama has had a worse year and he still has support. The Washington media loves him. Down with the Post sportswriters. Anyone who compares Arenas to Haynesworth, in any way, should be stripped naked, hung to a tree in the wintertime and whipped with a switch.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | December 20, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Nick athletic ability will always have an NBA job, even if it's at the end of someone's bench. I may have said that if he was just going to be making the minimum at the end of someone's bench, he might be better served making more coin and playing more minutes overseas. Definitely never said D-League.

Posted by: ts35 | December 19, 2010 3:26 PM

I hear what you're sayin, I don't necessarily see him in Europe either, but the D-League guys make 5 figures. If a European team offers him a multi-million dollar deal, hard to see anyone saying no. Especially since his prospects for making it back to the League are just as good, if not better, from Europe.

Posted by: ts35 | October 27, 2010

Posted by: spades72 | December 20, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

"Posted by: spades72 | December 20, 2010 12:46 AM "

And, again, what's your point? All you did was confirm what I already said, that I didn't predict he'd be playing overseas next season, just that I wouldn't be surprised if he were.

(And the fact that you actually rooted through 3 months of old threads to fold that is really kind of a sad statement on your part.)

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 20, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Spades72' You know what a spade is, something that you can not see. So you stay in the dark, with that dumb a$$ comment, about a great player, like Nick Young. Every team need a shooter. And if he go overseas. You will be over their with Nick, being Young # 1 cheer leader.

Posted by: maejude | December 20, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

I never "predicted" anything. I pretty much never make predictions because, unlike seemingly most around here, I'm not actually in possession of a crystal ball that predicts the future. I did say that I wouldn't be surprised if Young was playing in Europe next season, and outlined some reasons why/scenarios how. But that's not the same thing as a prediction. (However, I will point out that Young's numbers on the season aren't terribly dissimilar from Josh Childress's numbers the season before he went overseas. Just sayin'.)

Posted by: kalo_rama December 19th, 2010

Nick Young is gonzo after this season (if not before). Wouldn't be surprised to see him playing overseas next season.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 26, 2010 5:26 PM

Posted by: spades72 | December 20, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

WHAT THE . . . Say it ain't so Kalo!

Posted by: zack9633 | December 20, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

I never "predicted" anything. I pretty much never make predictions because, unlike seemingly most around here, I'm not actually in possession of a crystal ball that predicts the future.

Posted by: kalo_rama

Nick Young is gonzo after this season (if not before).

Posted by: kalo_rama

My point is, you might be in the prediction business more than you know.


Posted by: spades72 | December 20, 2010 2:14 AM | Report abuse

Spades72' You know what a spade is, something that you can not see. So you stay in the dark, with that dumb a$$ comment, about a great player, like Nick Young. Every team need a shooter. And if he go overseas. You will be over their with Nick, being Young # 1 cheer leader.

Posted by: maejude | December 20, 2010 1:35 AM

I think you missed the boat on this one. I never posted anything in favor of or against Nick Young. I was just reposting comments made by others to clarify things.

Posted by: spades72 | December 20, 2010 2:28 AM | Report abuse

"Anyone who compares Arenas to Haynesworth, in any way, should be stripped naked, hung to a tree in the wintertime and whipped with a switch.Posted by: 1bmffwb"

LOL as Lewis Grizzard said, 'I resent the allegation, and I resent the alligator.'

Arenas and Haynesworth have a number of things in common.

First, they represent two of the most ill-conceived contracts in the history of their respective sports. Toxic to the fiscal health of their employers.

Second, they are both historically talented players who have underachieved in the past two seasons.

Third, they've both been suspended, Albert by the team, Gilbert by the NBA (because that's who does it in basketball.)

Four, both have embarrassed their employers. Badly. In public.

Five, both met their low point in Washington.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 20, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I forgot one other point of comparison:

If you go over to Redskins Insider, you'll find few regular posters defending Albert's conduct and blaming the coaches for his behavior, too.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 20, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Well, let me clarify my opinion of Nick Young, in case anybody needs to go back and consult it later, no doubt after misquoting it a number of times:

1. Nick is much improved this season. Mainly he's not juking around before he launches the shot. This is something we all hoped he would stop doing last season when Flip first advised him.

2. His shot is dropping. This is the holy grail for any jump shooter, all of whom suffer from periods in their career when for some reason -- health, mechanical problems, the basketball gods -- it doesn't.

3. Nick is benefiting from the lack of other scorers on the floor. That's natural enough -- somebody has to take the shots.

4. Perhaps most important, he's shown some interest in defense. This is the way to a coach's heart.

5. It would be most unwise for we fans to jump on this bandwagon the way some of our less wise brethren jumped on the Andray Blatche bandwagon last season. The situations are similar. Both players are currently in the position of having a lot of plays run for them. If that changes, or they get injured, or the shots stop falling, or for some reason they decide that defense is no longer a priority, then things could change -- fast.

Even if that happens, Nick will still be a very talented basketball player with flaws. Just as Andray is. And the next candidate for fan canonization.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 20, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

The thing about Nick is, some of us could see how well he was playing for a good portion of last season and others could not. To those who could, this season isn't that much of a surprise aside from the fact he's actually been given the opportunity. Those who couldnt tell are now left talking about what they really meant, if he only does this or that, the difference now is _____, thank god flip something or another, now he is playing defense, lucky his shot is falling, etc, etc, etc. Nonsense. The only real difference is the continued opportunity. Flip used to pull him after 2 missed shots last season, and that's the night after he may have checked DWade or CBillups. It's no revelation that he can score like this, nor that he's a better man defender than Kirk, Wall, or Gil (was).

No harm no foul, all fans are in the prediction business. You win some you lose some. (I'm looking at you Dray.)

Posted by: divi3 | December 20, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

"Those who couldnt tell are now left talking about what they really meant, if he only does this or that, the difference now is _____, thank god flip something or another, now he is playing defense, lucky his shot is falling, etc, etc, etc. Nonsense. The only real difference is the continued opportunity."

LOL no it's not. He's playing better. He knows it, even if some of us don't.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 20, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the memories Gilbert. You did a lot for Washington D.C. basketball, you did a lot for the team, you did a lot for the community. May you have more success in Orlando.

Posted by: rickgonz | December 20, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

He's playing better. He knows it, even if some of us don't.

Averaged 17pts/45%FG/35mins in April of last season, Wizards went 4-4. The way he is playing right now isn't really a surprise.Though I guess to you it is LOL

Posted by: divi3 | December 20, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I happen to agree with Divi,

Some fans did feel these kinds of performances from NY were possible, even last year. And sometimes even in admission that said player has improved some, there seems to be a resentment in the notion or constant reminding of us to temper enthusiasm. Last year Flip WAS very petty in how he would pull NY after one or two misses. Almost like he never wanted you in the game in the first place.

Posted by: gmac78 | December 20, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"Some fans did feel these kinds of performances from NY were possible, even last year. And sometimes even in admission that said player has improved some, there seems to be a resentment in the notion or constant reminding of us to temper enthusiasm. posted by gmac78"

Well, Nick has improved some, and that's what we're seeing this season. Of course, opportunity helped him. Wall is out, Gil is traded, who else is going to score from the backcourt?

It's analogous to Andray's situation after last year's trades. Flip ran what, close to 2/3 of the plays through him? Didn't really have much choice at that time.

Tempering your enthusiasm in the wake of a player or team's apparent improvement seems to me like a smart thing to do. Then when the player or team struggles, you don't get as angry, and you don't have to find somebody else to blame for it, so you won't feel as wrong. But that's just me.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 20, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

spades, I'm not sure what you clarified, aside from verifying that what I think I said is actually what I said. In fact, if you scrolled up a few posts from the one you copied, it's almost exactly what I said. In fact, here is exactly what I said then...

He has enough talent and has delivered just enough that he can be on an NBA roster for a long time, short of contraction. NBA rosters are filled with talented underachievers. The only way I see him going to Europe (and I think others have alluded to this) is if some team offers him a much bigger contract than any NBA team is willing to.
Posted by: ts35 | October 27, 2010 12:42 PM

And in the interests of accuracy, here's the precursor post that I was responding to....

RE: Nick Young
I'm a Nick Young fan and I believe he has all the physical tools to be as good as Kobe. Unfortunately I doubt he'll ever Be anything close as he lacks the mental capacity most nights. He is not, as of this moment, a better NBA player than Josh Childress. More talented? Sure. More productive and efficient? Not even close. Also Young won't be playing in Europe next year, it's not that I don't think he'll still be in the league, I just don't see him going overseas. He'd go to the D-League before going overseas in my opinion.
Posted by: DonnyB | October 27, 2010

I hear what you're sayin, I don't necessarily see him in Europe either, but the D-League guys make 5 figures. If a European team offers him a multi-million dollar deal, hard to see anyone saying no. Especially since his prospects for making it back to the League are just as good, if not better, from Europe.
Posted by: ts35 | October 27, 2010

But since we're apparently in the business of taking things out of context, I also found this nugget....

By the way Kalo-Rama, Samson and ts 35, your prediction of Nick Young being lucky to be in the Euro or D League next year is as ludicrous now as it was a month ago when you professed it.
Posted by: NewManagement | December 19, 2010

The fact that he may end up in Europe may very well be true. But it is also true that the kid is an MBA talent never got a fair chance here.
Posted by: NewManagement | October 27, 2010

What?? Inconceivable!! I guess it wasn't as 'ludicrous' to consider in October.

So, just to recap, definitely didn't 'predict' Young would be in the D-League, or would be lucky to be in the D-League or in Europe. I definitely felt like coming into this year the he was an underachiever and that it was a possibility that that wouldn't change. Based on that I thought it was a possibility that he would get a contract offer from Europe that he couldn't ignore (much like Childress). Apparently, NewManagement was willing to concede that Europe was a possibility as well.

Posted by: ts35 | December 20, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Averaged 17pts/45%FG/35mins in April of last season, Wizards went 4-4. The way he is playing right now isn't really a surprise.Though I guess to you it is LOL

Posted by: divi3

The scoring is not a surprise. The consistent effort and focus on both ends of the floor is the difference to me. And by the way, saying that that is just a function of 'opportunity' is poppycock. He's had long stretches of extended minutes in the past, and while he has been able to produce offensively, he would also disappear defensively. And his effort was tied to his shot falling. Saying anything else is whitewashing his proven past.


Posted by: ts35 | December 20, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for all the great moments Gil. You made being a Wizards fan fun again! We will never forget 2004-2007 in particular. Good luck in Orlando, I hope you have both success and peace there. I will always be rooting for you from afar as long as you are in the league.

Posted by: cwb3 | December 20, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@ts35

You were clearly firmed in yours comments saying Nick Young will find a place on a NBA team, with the possibility of landing a decent contract in Europe. I just went back and read what was stated and reposted some of it. That's all.

Posted by: spades72 | December 20, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the great column Mr. Lee!

Posted by: cometsonfire | December 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"The scoring is not a surprise. The consistent effort and focus on both ends of the floor is the difference to me. And by the way, saying that that is just a function of 'opportunity' is poppycock. He's had long stretches of extended minutes in the past, and while he has been able to produce offensively, he would also disappear defensively. And his effort was tied to his shot falling. Saying anything else is whitewashing his proven past."

Amen, I would add that him scoring this consistently is somewhat of a surprise. In the past, not only would he highly inefficient on offense very often, but any struggles on that side of the ball and he completely lost focus. This season he is much more efficient in terms of how he gets his shots off, making them, and then playing an improved all around game. He still doesn't ever make a play for another player or rebound, but he has improved.

@Divi,

Declaring you knew NY had it in him is basically saying nothing at all. And, no he did not play this well this consistently at any point prior to this season. He would be the first person to tell you this yet you always want to argue nonsensical things.

We all/most think that JM has potential to be a pretty good NBA player too. And, if it happens, I wouldn't say I told you so bc it's fairly obvious as are his flaws. Even Artest agrees it's very possible if he becomes more serious and quits playing Atari.

Posted by: rphilli721 | December 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"The scoring is not a surprise. The consistent effort and focus on both ends of the floor is the difference to me. And by the way, saying that that is just a function of 'opportunity' is poppycock. He's had long stretches of extended minutes in the past, and while he has been able to produce offensively, he would also disappear defensively. And his effort was tied to his shot falling. Saying anything else is whitewashing his proven past."

Amen, I would add that him scoring this consistently is somewhat of a surprise. In the past, not only would he highly inefficient on offense very often, but any struggles on that side of the ball and he completely lost focus. This season he is much more efficient in terms of how he gets his shots off, making them, and then playing an improved all around game. He still doesn't ever make a play for another player or rebound, but he has improved.

@Divi,

Declaring you knew NY had it in him is basically saying nothing at all. And, no he did not play this well this consistently at any point prior to this season. He would be the first person to tell you this yet you always want to argue nonsensical things.

We all/most think that JM has potential to be a pretty good NBA player too. And, if it happens, I wouldn't say I told you so bc it's fairly obvious as are his flaws. Even Artest agrees it's very possible if he becomes more serious and quits playing Atari.

Posted by: rphilli721 | December 20, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Gil will always be D.C.'s "Prodigal Son" but we love him anyway.

Posted by: Stevie-J | December 20, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

And, no he did not play this well this consistently at any point prior to this season.

Did you watch the last month of last season? He's been playing good D for awhile, just because you didnt notice doesnt make it untrue. Sure he had lapses and bad games, but so did every single player on last season's roster. The difference was Flip would yank Nick after an 0-2 start or one blown assignment. It's not a coincidence that I told you he was at least as a good a defender as Kirk if not better, lo and behold, he clearly is this season. People werent guessing when they talked about what he could do if given the chance, they were making observations based on his play. Not his play from years past, but from last season.

And I don't think I said he isn't playing better this season, I said it's not a surprise he is playing this well now- at least not to some people.

Posted by: divi3 | December 20, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Expounding on my last post:

We all/most think that JM has potential to be a pretty good NBA player too. And, if it happens, I wouldn't say I told you so bc it's fairly obvious as are his flaws. Right now, he gets a fair amount of playing time or even more than he should since the options are limited at that position. In two years, if he has a breakout season and his playing time signicantly increases, it would be dumb of anyone to say - if he only got those minutes two years ago he can have done the same thing he is doing now and I predicted it. You can't sound much dumber than that!

Posted by: rphilli721 | December 20, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Arenas who?

Posted by: bestmick1 | December 20, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I am a Gil fan - he should be remembered for the good he did for the company, the community, the city, and the states of Maryland and Virginia. He was the reason I turned on the TV to watch - who can afford tickets. But someone commented that Flip should go - I don't know if he should go or not but why has he not be held accoutable for the actions of his players -why does he get a pass. What has he won? I don't recall Minnesota winning a thing - not sure if he is the answer but I think he will get an opportunity to see where the young talent takes them.

Posted by: Baller1122 | December 20, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@Divi,

He was given chances last season and he didn't play as well last year as he is now. Period. I saw the final month and you are referring to about 2/3 games in a row where he gave a hearty effort on defense and then he soon relapsed to previous form. So, don't pretend he played at high level on defense "for a whole month" last season bc it's flat out not true.

And, it simply is fiction to deduce the difference in play is a function of opportunity, which is what you are really arguing when you use the term "not surprised."

I heard NY state in an interview that he is playing his best most consistent NBA basketball by far this season. And, temper your enthusiasm as the NY saga is probably not past all it's speed bumps just yet.

Posted by: rphilli721 | December 20, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

And, temper your enthusiasm as the NY saga is probably not past all it's speed bumps just yet.

That we can agree on!

Posted by: divi3 | December 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Another 6-10 perimeter shooter. Just what the Wizards needed.

Posted by: bonggong | December 20, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Great article! Thanks for the memories Gil.

Posted by: Fontana1 | December 20, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@ts35

You were clearly firmed in yours comments saying Nick Young will find a place on a NBA team, with the possibility of landing a decent contract in Europe. I just went back and read what was stated and reposted some of it. That's all.

Posted by: spades72

Coolio, sorry, it wasn't clear to me. And thanks for taking the time to go back and find the actual posts.

Posted by: ts35 | December 20, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Professional athlete or not, finding the mental strength to keep coming back from adversity is a challenge."

Truer words have never been spoken, I wish Gilbert the best professionally and personally.

Posted by: royalk | December 20, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I think it was a good move for Gil, Orlando and the Wizards. Lewis is the only one that did not gain. Now he has to play for a rebuilding team whos best player is hurt.

Posted by: ged0386 | December 20, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I hope Arenas succeeds w/ Orlando. He was brilliant for a few years here. I'm not sure how much of his old form he can ever recover after his injuries and his approaching senior citizenship in the NBA, but he still has a place in the league.

Posted by: randysbailin | December 20, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

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