Wizards Handcuffed by Gilbert Arenas
Come Tuesday, Gilbert Arenas will either be locked up by the Wizards for six years at max money or near max money, or he’ll be on his way to China for an Adidas promotional tour sans contract. The issue for the Wizards, as I see it, is that they’re more or less handcuffed by Arenas. If there are 30 teams in the NBA, I’m guessing there’s at least one other team out there willing to give Arenas max money, but to me, the Wizards are almost obligated to give him that money. Gil’s a superstar in that town — the most popular athlete in DC. It’s not even a question of whether or not they think Gil can lead them to a title and be the star on a championship team. It’s about keeping him in D.C. and keeping the fans happy.
Sure, having a winning team also keeps the fans happy, and they’ll get that from the Wizards. The team is good enough to reach the playoffs consistently, even in a year when Arenas and Caron Butler were both hurt. But are they a title team? Probably not, as long as they don’t have a legitimate big man, which they haven’t had since the bringing the Arenas/Jamison/Butler trio together. So the big issue handcuffing the Wizards is Arenas’ knee. He missed almost all of this past season since shredding it up two seasons ago and he didn’t look anywhere near how he was at his peak. Gil compounded matters by trying to return from the initial surgery too quickly and was forced to have a second surgery. He might never be the same if those few games he played down the stretch were any indication. He doesn’t have the same quickness or agility — the traits that made him stand out against opposing players. It’s a gamble for the Wizards, but it’s one they pretty much have to take. (And one Gilbert can certainly repay them for).