You may recall, at the time of Arenas’ suspension last season I was rather blunt with my opinion on the man who was once referred to as ‘Agent 0′ when I said that he was “far from a hero” and the Wizards “had no choice but to move on from Arenas and look forward”. Perhaps yesterday was a significant step in doing so when the Wizards traded Arenas to the Orlando Magic who were busy overhauling it’s own roster by making a flurry of moves in addition to acquiring Arenas.
According to Wizards guard Nick Young, it was around 2:00 this [Saturday] afternoon when Gilbert Arenas knocked on his door. “He knocked on my door and said, ‘I’m gone,’” Young told reporters prior to the game against the Miami Heat at the Verizon Center. “I thought he was just talking about going to the store or something.”
In fact, Arenas meant going somewhere much further Orlando, where he had just been traded. The main decision-makers in the Wizards organization framed the deal, which netted the Wizards Rashard Lewis, as another step — albeit a somewhat more difficult one — in the organization’s long trek back to respectability that also gave the loyal servant, Arenas, a chance to get a long-awaited championship ring.
“I think you have to look at the total situation, which is, we’re in a rebuild, We’re in a total rebuild.” – Wizards coach Flip Saunders
“It was time for a change, This is a good opportunity for Gilbert to go to Orlando and revitalize his career.” - Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld
In many respects, the move represents the final dismantling of the tumultuous team of last season that saw Arenas and Javaris Crittenton get suspended for the rest of the season for foolishly bringing guns into the locker room, a violation of NBA rules and D.C. laws. As Grunfeld pointed out during his press conference, the only players currently on the roster who were on the roster at this time last year are Young, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee.
Initially, it seems difficult to see how the 31-year-old Rashard Lewis, who has a similar contract to Arenas with $40 million due to him over the next two years and $10 million guaranteed the year after that, fits in with the rebuilding movement. When Grunfeld was asked that very question, he responded: “Look, you can’t have every player be young. You need some veterans.He can help our front court with his experience. He’s a career 39% three-point shooter, and when you have a point guard like John [Wall] who likes to drive and kick, you need someone who can spread the floor. He’s versatile — we can play him at the three with JaVale and Andray if we go big, or we can go small with him at the four and somebody like Josh [Howard] or Andray at the five.”
For all the potential on and off-court benefits that Lewis might bring to the Wizards, perhaps the defining effect of the trade was articulated by Saunders, who was asked how the trade would affect rookie point guard John Wall, who will miss his third straight game with right knee tendinitis tonight.