The Washington Wizards traded away Center Brendan Haywood, Forward Caron Butler and Guard DeShawn Stevenson to the Dallas Mavericks this week. The Wizards gained financial flexibility as well as players Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. So let me get this straight, the Wizards traded away Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson and lost part of their soul in exchange for… well, not much.
1. Better options seemed to be on the table
2. It’s truly the end of an era.
Over at Bullets Forever, Prada cites Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports who reported that the Portland Trail Blazers were offering: Steve Blake (yeah, the guy from that Terps championship team who actually made it in the NBA) , rookie Jeff Pendergraph (young potential) and a first-round pick (always a good thing) for Haywood. Instead we got Gooden, Howard (an all star 3 YEARS ago) and two no namers? That’s almost embarrassing to think about.
Haywood was a rebounding machine this year and someone you could count on to bring his best every game. He wasn’t an offensive juggernaut, but the man brought board game better than Parker Brothers (compared to what we’ve had before) and played some pretty decent defense.
Butler, has always been one of the toughest guys on this squad. He’s got grit and guts and even though he hasn’t been on offensively much this year, he’s been one of the only ones on the Wizards willing to play defense. I’m not sure what wasn’t working out with Flip Saunders’ offense and Caron but I think he was starting to catch on the past two weeks.
To be honest, I’m going to miss DeShawn Stevenson for purely nostalgic reasons. I will miss him for his hatred of LeBron James, for his amazing defense on some of the best offensive players in the game and for his “I can’t feel my face” taunt after his three pointers. I loved everything about DeShawn. I understand the past two years he’s had it rough, and I get that people call him Debrick… Yeah yeah, but he was to me, the most exciting underdog of this team. Media darling LeBron James was Goliath and Michael Vick jersey wearing DeShawn was our David. Alright, DeShawn didn’t have the virtues of a regular hero but I’d be damned if you said he didn’t have fight.
A few months ago, after the Wizards got schalacked by Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena (where I unfortunately witnessed it first hand), LeBron James said the “rivalry is over”. The comment was infuriating to Wizards fans. Some thought it was acknowledgment of more than just the poor state of the franchise but also of the fact that Antwan Jamison could be a part of the Cavs sooner rather than later. This team will be unrecognizable in about a month and even though they’ll have more salary cap room, what have we really gained? I know I’m not the only Wizards fan that is looking forward to the end of the season and is hoping that Leonsis is able to buy this team and right this wreck of a ship.
Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gilbert made a stupid and arrogant mistake in pre-game warmups. It was irresponsible and immature of him to turn a criminal investigation into a joke with his teammates. There’s no denying that. But Arenas isn’t the only one who has handled this situation poorly, the Washington Wizards organization and David Stern have made decisions too quickly and offer no attempt at finding the truth of what happened on December 21st.
The Commish: Does Stern know best?
As the Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern clearly has the authority to discipline players. Stern reacted to Arenas’ attitude and comments regarding the investigation by suspending him indefinitely, just a few hours before the tipoff against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mind you this is probably before the criminal investigation is even halfway through and before Gilbert has even formally been charged with a crime. It has been noted that the NBA has an image problem: thuggery, but those who have watched Agent Zero during his career in D.C., know that he is not a thug. David Steele lays it out clearly here and Adrian Wojnarowski does the opposite here.
Often times league commissioners get high marks from the public when “swift justice” is served on the players that sacrifice their body for the games they play. Fans see the privileged, multi-million dollar athlete in legal trouble and before the whole story is out, scream for judgment. But in this specific instance, the whole story isn’t out yet. Let the legal system do what it’s set up to do! Why should Stern think he knows better than the American justice system? While the legal system in America isn’t perfect, it’s made to find the truth and to administer true justice. You can’t tell me that the NBA League office is equipped to find truth better than the U.S. legal system. Stern acted too quickly here, and like I said, his comments on Gilbert being “unfit” to be on an NBA Court are absurd.
The Club: Betrayal for the sake of rectifying a heavy contract?
Unfortunately, the NBA Commissioner isn’t the only one who reacted poorly in the Arenas situation. The Washington Wizards who are, supposedly looking into ‘voiding’ Arenas’ contract have quickly condemned him and his teammates for the 76ers pregame. They’ve stripped Verizon Center of his likeness and are doing whatever they can to push him away right now. I understand keeping some distance but completely disowning him before the facts are out? Bogus betrayal.
Really, which is worse?
What should have been done was to wait until the facts were out on the issue and hold the person responsible for the wrongdoing accountable (which more and more seems to be Javaris Crittenton according to some reports). Instead Stern decided to make an example of the wrong man and the Washington Wizards are using this as an opportunity to try and unload a contract as if it were a strictly financial decision. As wrong as it was for Arenas to have guns in the locker room, I find the actions of Stern and the Wizards reprehensible.
***MUST READ***Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports offers a reality check on people trying to kill Gil’s career.
Mitch Lawrence of the NY Daily News is one of those people who needs a reality check.
Mike Wise from the Washington Post gives reports on Crittenton’s possible actions in the incident.
For all the latest Wiz and Arenas news: Wizard Insider by Michael Lee at the Post.
The day that Mike Shanahan was introduced as the Washington Redskins new head coach, declaring that we will be a strongly “disciplined team”, a gray cloud descended over the happy DMV area. Gilbert Arenas, the area’s most popular athlete, was suspended. When accountability and respectability appear to be on the horizon for one of our area’s most beloved franchises the other one takes ten steps back.
David Stern has suspended Gilbert Arenas indefinitely and released the following statement (Thanks to the Wizards Insider):
“The possession of firearms by an NBA player in an NBA arena is a matter of the utmost concern to us. I initially thought it prudent to refrain from taking immediate action because of the pendency of a criminal investigation involving the office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department, and the consideration of this matter by a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia.
For the same reason, I directed the Wizards to refrain from taking any action. Wizards personnel continue to be interviewed by law enforcement authorities, some are scheduled for appearance before the grand jury and the investigation is proceeding with the intensity that one would expect for such a serious incident.
“Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game. Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA.” (emphasis added)
The Wizards responded to the decision by Stern swiftly (again thanks to Wizards Insider):
“We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas. Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert’s recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable. Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert’s behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin’s leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so.”
The suspension is undoubtedly not just because of the investigation but also for Gilbert’s actions and his poor behavior after the incident. Last night against the 76ers Gilbert Arenas stood in the middle of the huddle and “jokingly” aimed his fingers as guns and shot at his teammates. They all yukked it up, and Arenas continued to tweet (also jokingly) as well. That’s why Stern had to make a move. But I have a major problem with the language from the NBA office.
“[N]ot fit” to be on an NBA court? As far as any one knows right now, Arenas had unloaded guns in a locker room. That’s it. He should have been more serious about the situation he was in, but unfit? That makes him a mental evaluation away from being able to step back onto the court. More to come on this issue and the effect it’s going to have on the Wizards this year.
Personally, I’m pissed because I’m going to the game in Cleveland tonight. What are your thoughts on the Arenas suspension?
Did he have it coming to him?
Is this suspension merited considering the offense has been met with less anger than the reaction to the investigation?
It’s time for a little summary of what’s going on in the DMV this week.
The Caps opened up the season with a 4-1 win over Boston.
- Ted Leonsis believes the Capitals are built to be a dynasty that will at least be in contention for the Stanley Cup the next 10 years. (Wow, we haven’t had a dynasty in D.C. since the Gibbs I era. Wouldn’t that be nice?)
- There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic if you’re a Caps fan (even after that heart-wrenching loss to the Penguins last season). The main reason? Alexander Ovechkin of course.
- EA Sports has Pittsburgh repeating as Stanley Cup Champions. (But I mean come on, Madden this year has the Redskins winning the NFC East. Talk about lack of credibility, oh wait….)
Flip Saunders gave the Wizards players t-shirts that say “Our Time” and an I-pod Touch with the 250 page playbook complete with diagrams and charts. I think that’s pretty awesome. Saunders seems to be highly organized and very creative. Antwaan Jamison is definitely pumped about having the proven head coach. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Michael Lee of The Washington Post,
“To me, those are the kinds of things that make a difference. There’s no excuse why you don’t know the plays,” said Jamison, adding that each iPod has an individual code to protect its contents in case it is lost or stolen. “That playbook is like one of those NFL playbooks, it goes on for days. [Saunders] incorporated things so quickly and you go right into it. His enthusiasm, attention to detail, he don’t play around. I like the overall concept of how we’re going to do things here.”
Oh yeah, and Saunders also apparently hired a hypnotist who used mind tricks to get Nick Young and Mike James to hop around, put their hands over a flame and danced. Anyone know if we can get him to hypnotize the Wizards into playing defense? Just a thought.
- Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood and _________at Shooting Guard. Fill in the blank: _____________ (a) DeShawn Stevenson (b) Dominic McGuire (c) Nick Young (d) Randy Foye or (e) Mike Miller. This is a tough decision for Saunders despite the great options tough. Who would you pick?
Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals
Walk Off- Grand Slam for the season finale at home. Not bad, but the Washington Nationals still suck.
After so much optimism in the last 3/4 of the season, the Baltimore Orioles have lost 13 in a row and also still suck.
Where to begin? Let’s start with something positive. Hard to do with Washington Redskins? Try this on for size: London Fletcher is as inspiring and active off the football field as much as he is on it. (I wonder if Nancy Pelosi knows her about her bump-in yet?)
- On Mike Wise’s radio show, George Michael (that link is just in case you didn’t know, but you definitely already should) shoots straight with Wise on how the Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato machine works. I’d have to say that this is probably one of the most insightful Redskins related pieces in the past few years. I say that because of how much hate there is out there for Dan Snyder (see “Burgundy Revolution” and the latest Sally Jenkins article).
- Reed Doughty is starting this Sunday against Tampa Bay instead of Chris Horton.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are starting Josh Johnson this weekend instead of Byron Leftwich. I’m actually glad Johnson is starting considering what Leftwich did last year to the ‘Skins.
- Albert Haynesworth was offered MORE money to play for Tampa Bay? Wow.
After a season long of FAILURE without Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood (as well as other players suffering numerous injuries through the entire year) there was a glimmer of hope: the NBA Lottery Draft (Here’s a helpful explanation of the NBA Lottery).
Besides the thought that next year might be the year where the Wizards might finally be healthy for a season (oh yeah and the trouncing of Cleveland when we DID have a starting lineup) was the fact that although they only won 19 games out of 82 it wouldn’t go to waste. No, at least they’d get a good draft pick out of it.
I, for one spent the remaining games of the Wizards season gleefully imagining Blake Griffin getting some of those sweet assists Arenas was tossing out in the two games he played at the end of the season. But I wasn’t the only one, the Wizards front office had imagined it too.
Not so fast though, tied for the second worst record in the league doesn’t guarantee anything other than a top 5 pick. This isn’t the NFL, the lottery reigns.
So what did the lottery say to the fans in the nation’s capital?
“SCREW YOU WASHINGTON“and ping pong balls of sadness fell to the Clippers tonight.
Now what? Many think Ernie Grunfeld will try and package the pick with a player or two(Etan Thomas?) to get a veteran to help out. Michael Lee with the Wizards Insider thinks they should draft James Harden (The NY Times likes him at least).
If you need a laugh, continue with the links and reading below.
As always, Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog makes me smile in a sad situation:
Dan Steinberg via twitter:
“Ah, the week that was for D.C. sports fans. Too much joy than 140 characters can contain. http://tr.im/lPER ”
Jamie Mottram of Mister Irrelevant via twitter:
Maybe the Wiz could get Taylor Griffin with the 5th pick, and Blake could come visit sometime?
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