With 2010′s “Big Six” free agents(LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer) off the market and disgruntled Hornets point guard Chris Paul staying in New Orleans for the time being, there isn’t much left for teams looking to make a push to the playoffs. Your top three free agents as it stands are Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson…..which would be great, if it was 2002.
However, there is a big name that can be had if a team is desperate enough to roll the dice. It is the name that has been at the forefront of trade rumors since New Year’s.
That name is Gilbert Arenas, the troubled guard of the Washington Wizards. There are plenty of reasons to avoid “Agent Zero” like Albert Haynesworth avoids the treadmill. For one, there’s the four years remaining on the six-year, $111 million contract he signed in 2008. There’s his troublesome knees that caused to play in only 15 games in two seasons from 2007-2009. Then, there’s the biggest Arenas red flag, which is the fact that he’ll be re-entering the NBA after a 50-game suspension for bringing guns into an NBA locker room. Understandably, a guy with that kind of black cloud hanging over him is a tough sell for teams trying to sell tickets. After all, a recent poll voted Arenas one of the most disliked people in all of sports. Needless to say, that kind of standing doesn’t put butts in seats.
Still, there’s no denying Arenas’ value ON the court. In 32 games last season(the most he’d played in nearly three years), Arenas was averaging 22.6 points per game as well as 7.2 assists per game. He was shooting 41% from the field and 34% from three. Less than a month before his suspension, Arenas went on a hot streak where he dropped a triple double on Indiana and then scored 45 points on Golden State a few days later. Does he have the tendency to be careless with the ball? Sure, but if you’re a team with a need at point guard, who are you going to find that doesn’t have that stigma attached to them.
On top of that, the Wizards’ asking price isn’t expected to be too high(or, at least, it shouldn’t be, since it would be wishful thinking on the part of GM Ernie Grunfeld to think he can get a king’s ransom for a shoot-first point guard who has played 47 games in three years and hasn’t played a full season since 2002 with Golden State). Scouring the league, I came up with the three best teams for the Wizards to consider opening Arenas trade talks with:
1. New York Knicks: They built up the expectations of their fans for two years with the hopes that the summer of 2010 was going to be their coming out party. Instead, they went one-for-six in their pursuit of the “Big Six”, locking down a former pupil of coach Mike D’Antoni in center Amar’e Stoudemire. All of the good from that move was nullified by trading All-Star forward David Lee for promising forward Anthony Randolph and a couple expiring contracts. Now, the Knicks are trying to sell fans on the possibility of forming their own “Big Three” by bringing in Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony(a free agent next year) and either Spurs point guard Tony Parker(also a free agent next year) or by stealing Paul from the Hornets.
Meanwhile, the Garden will be packed with fans who will be forced to watch the point guard pu-pu platter of Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas. Why not make the move now for Arenas? He’s the type of scoring point guard with a slight bit of passing flair that could excel in D’Antoni’s offense, and the Wizards would probably only want Eddy Curry’s expiring contract(since the main priority for Washington is saving money) and versatile forward Wilson Chandler(who is a restricted free agent next year and has been on the trade block all summer). Why continue to con fans with false hopes and dreams? New Yorkers love big names and Arenas still is one.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: At this point, who is bringing Cavs fans to the Q now that LeBron is gone? Mo Williams? Anderson Varajao? Antawn Jamison? Perhaps Williams and Arenas wouldn’t be a good fit in the same backcourt since their both shoot-first combo guards who operate best with the ball in their hands, but Williams can opt out at the end of the year and he’d be a fool to stay on a sinking ship in Cleveland. With LeBron, Shaq, Big Z and now Delonte West gone, the Cavs can accommodate the $80 million left on Arenas’ deal, plus he could be insurance for if and when Mo skips town. The Cavs can’t really offer much beyond Anthony Parker’s expiring contract and maybe a couple of the picks Cleveland got from Miami in the LeBron “trade”, but the Wizards should just be elated to get rid of Arenas and the Cavs should roll the dice on being able to bring in a 3-time All-Star on the cheap.
3. Indiana Pacers: They’ve been looking for a point guard for years and even auctioned the 10th pick in this past June’s NBA Draft in an attempt to secure one. They have the expiring contracts of Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Troy Murphy to play with(though I can’t see the Pacers offering BOTH of them for Arenas). Plus, an Arenas-Granger-Hansbrough-Hibbert wouldn’t be too bad of nucleus, would it? For the Wizards, taking back Murphy will give them a solid rebounding forward that can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot. In Dunleavy, they get a seasoned shooter who can fill it up when he’s healthy(which has been Dunleavy’s issue for a while now). As for Arenas, you’d have to be a real knucklehead to get into trouble in Indiana. Granted, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Tinsley and Jermaine O’Neal managed to do it, but I would think that would be more a cautionary tale for Arenas than a reason to steer clear of Hoosierland.
No matter how this thing shakes out, the Wizards have the luxury of having a prized trading chip. With stars wanting to align in big markets nowadays, there may be a team that might want to make Arenas as a part of a tandem. Yes, Arenas is a bit of a knucklehead and his quirks aren’t for every body, but people crazier than Arenas have been given numerous chances(looking at you, Stephon Marbury!), so why not roll the dice on a 28-year old scoring machine looking for a fresh start?
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.