When the Washington Wizards won the NBA draft lottery a month ago, AFRO sports writers Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley went into full John Wall mode. Both Riley and Green believe the Wizards will select the Kentucky point guard as their new franchise star, representing new life around the nation’s capital after a disastrous season.
But while both writers are set on the Wizards selecting Wall, they remain torn over what Washington should do with current point guard Gilbert Arenas. Should the Wizards jettison their once-beloved star or should they hold on to him? The AFRO sports desk debates.
SDR: Forget the Cherry Blossom Festival or walks alongside the National Mall, the best scene in D.C. next year is going to be Wall and Arenas streaking down the court on fast breaks. Arenas has the size to move over to shooting guard and his experience should lend to a smooth transition for Wall as he adjusts to the pros. Arenas was never much of a great floor leader, but the addition of Wall might actually help D.C.’s favorite gunner (no pun intended) become a more efficient player. Wall was part of a two point guard backcourt during his tenure at Kentucky so joining a starting unit with Arenas should be a seamless transition.
PG: There’s little doubt that John Wall could co-exist on the court with a prolific scorer like Arenas. But it’s the off-court relationship between the two that I would avoid. No disrespect to Gil, but many say the man is a notorious jackass; a practical joker willing to push the line between humor and outright disrespect. His often offensive behavior led to the breakup of the team last season, so I don’t know how wise it would be to keep him around during the team’s rebuilding process. Everybody deserves a second chance, but Gil’s shouldn’t be here in Washington.
SDR: Good point, but maybe Arenas has learned his lesson. He’s been suspended, imprisoned and ripped apart by the media. I can’t vouch for Arenas’ future behavior, but if the Wizards were set on dumping him they should’ve done so already. The past is the past. Washington could eat Arenas’ contract but that would be more for proving a point than making a smart basketball decision. Holding onto the controversial star might be in their best interest. Arenas is still the best scorer on the roster and his ability to play both point and shooting guard makes him a vital piece in Washington’s attempt to regain respectability.
PG: If the mission is to gain respectability, keeping Arenas around is the last thing Washington should do. The Wizards already traded away two members of the “Big Three.” So why would they keep the player that has been the least productive during the past three seasons? Sure, trading away Gil’s contract may be very difficult. And eating the contract by simply releasing him is a bold move to make, but it’s been done before. The New York Knicks reached a buy-out agreement with troublesome star Stephon Marbury just two seasons ago. They ended up eating nearly $20 million dollars in one season just because they wanted him away from their new rebuilding process. The Wizards may be able to do the same thing by simply convincing Arenas that he has a chance for a fresh career start somewhere else in the league.
SDR: It was nothing for the Knicks to eat Marbury’s contract in 2009 because he only had one year left on his deal. Washington still owes Arenas four years and $80 million which makes him pretty tough to move. Arenas may be a lot of things, but let’s not make him out to be some notorious thug who has a history of league fines, violations and suspensions. He made a mistake and paid for it. Aside from being an infamous prankster, he’s also a tireless worker who built his game up from a second round pick into one of the league’s more marketable stars before he shredded his knee. A guy with that kind of work ethic would provide a great example for an incoming wide-eyed rookie.
PG: But see, John Wall doesn’t need Arenas to show him how to work hard. Perhaps the greatest point guard of all time, Magic Johnson, already vouched for him being a true gym rat with crazy work ethic. Wall also doesn’t need Gil around trying to haze him as most rookies are when entering the league. There are stories swirling around the Wizards locker room that Arenas once dropped a load of human feces in forward Andray Blatche’s shoe when he was a rookie. Another story has him stealing the rims and tires from a teammate’s car during a road game. And we all saw the fruits of his latest prank. That gun charge wasn’t even the first time Arenas saw legal trouble; he also had a gun charge in California in 2003. When it boils down to it, Gil simply plays too much off the court and hasn’t played enough on the court when the Wizards needed him the most. So how can you trust him to not disappoint, again? If I’m in charge, I sit Arenas down, offer him half of what he’s owed from his contract, and set up another team interested in his services to pay the remainder. We still got love for ya Gil, but it’s time to move on!