There is a complex shadow hovering over the Washington Wizards and he should volunteer for one of those cheesy TV razor ads. His name is Gilbert Arenas and even when clean shaven his presence has set the tone without being in the lineup to open the season.
This opening honeymoon period to start the year should be all about the novelty of rookie number one pick John Wall and how the young captain will handle his role being the face of the franchise. While the fascination is there it certainly has been tempered by the what ifs surrounding agent less than zero.
Wall’s first night is almost upstaged by the fact that Arenas is seeing a foot specialist in Baltimore about an ankle that will cost him at least the first two games of the season. This following the preseason that began with a fake knee injury – morphed into a groin strain – and ended with a bad ankle.
Arenas and Wall could form one of the more dynamic guard combinations in the Association if Gilbert’s head straightens up. Wall could extend Arenas’ career and give him free reign to shoot at will. Wall’s ball pressure will make Arenas life easier by allowing him to play passing lanes which is all he did on defense in 2007 the last year he was an all star. With Wall’s speed and energy and Arenas’ ability to score it could be something special.
However, as the season opens Gilbert’s greatest asset to the Wizards is still marketing. We’re talking the kind that opens the eyes of a contending team who needs a difference maker offensively and is willing to take on the $80 million contract and the baggage that goes with it. Remember, there were takers for Ron Artest following the melee’ in Michigan and it worked out well for the Lakers last year.
If Wall is to ever grow into the face of the franchise the Wizards have to purge themselves of the Arenas nightmare before the unfathomable option becomes the only one. They need him for a stretch of 25 – 35 games from Arenas where he is healthy and demonstrates that he can still score 15 – 20 points per night in a roughly 30 minutes. Then hopefully his surgically repaired doesn’t go Goodyear blimp on him and his brain doesn‘t have a red beans and rice fart so that he is enticing to a contender. Barring that will the Stephon Marbury option – which is we’ll just pay you to stay away – become the viable outcome.
Arenas is to the Wizards what the bank crisis was to the Obama administration. He is like one of those CEO’s who was caught at the day spa after the feds cut the bailout checks. It’s a marriage that appears headed for divorce and the only question is just how nasty will it be. Poor Flip Saunders landed the golden egg but it will never be able to shine with number zero on the roster.
About the Author
Written by The SportsGroove
A lifelong sports fan who has turned his passion into a career. Host of The SportsGroove Radio Program Mon - Fri 7-10 pm ET 4-7 PT on NewsTalk 1450 WOL-AM in Washington, D.C. & www.woldcnews.com. Voice of SWAC Championships for Heritage Sports Radio (www.hsrn.com) on Sirius Satellite ch. 153 Executive Producer & for SportsGroove TV (www.youtube.com/sportsgroovetv).