We already know that Gilbert Arenas has traded in his No. 0 for No. 9 this season. And if you don’t remember, we’ve even already given Agent Zero a new nickname. But with the departures of former teammates Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison during the 2009-10 season, it became evident that more changes were ahead.
The rebuilding process started with the Wizards drafting John Wall this June, and with the rookie becoming the new face of the franchise, many questioned what new owner Ted Leonis would do with Arenas. Would he be traded? Would he be released? What exactly would the Wizards do with him? With so many questions came so few answers, and like it or not, Arenas is going to play a major role this season in helping restore this franchise.
By now, everyone knows about his gun charges, about the 30 days he spent in a halfway house reminiscing about his actions and hopes of becoming a better man. Let’s look past the bad and think about the future. There was a time when Arenas was the most clutch shooter in the League. Kobe may have the title now, but don’t think he’s forgotten about when Arenas dropped 60 in his house like a slot machine at The Bellagio spitting out quarters.
There was a time when Arenas could find motivation in a faulty blender. We’re talking about a guy who wore the No. 0 for most of his career because that’s how many minutes he was told he would play in the NBA. This is a guy who once collected press clippings and kept them in rooms throughout his house. This is a guy who played in a total of 47 games the past three seasons, and even with that, it’s hard to write him off as useless – a term being thrown around as of late. And yet, there’s no one stopping Gilbert Arenas from moving forward in the hopes of returning to his true form.
A few weeks ago during a pickup game at the Verizon Center, Leonis released a statement on his blog stating that Arenas has been looking like his old self:
Last night there was a pick-up game played at Verizon Center on our practice court. There were many NBA players in attendance and a few NBA All-Stars played as well. I stumbled into watching purely by accident.
Gilbert Arenas played last night. It was a very good evening of basketball. Gil – our All-Star – matched up against another NBA All-Star. It was quite a show and quite a display of talent.
I won’t comment yet on Gilbert or who was in the gym last night but suffice to say Gilbert looked trim, fit and explosive. His shot was sweet and he did one left handed dunk that was something to see. It had everyone talking. I was impressed and am happy.
For the record, that All-Star was Chris Paul.
If Arenas is in top shape after missing a significant chunk of last season, he could get off to a stronger, faster start than some are anticipating. But now, Arenas has already met with Leonsis, who is encouraging fans to “re-embrace” him, and has spoken with Wall about his expectations for the upcoming season. Both Arenas and Wall could eventually end up becoming an All-Star duo with Wall at the point and Arenas at the two.
Without a doubt, this season is all about trust for Arenas. With a young, talented frontcourt and the emergence of both JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche, the Wizards might turn out to be better than expected. With No. 6 being a symbol of maturity, Arenas will return to D.C. with patience and willingness to dole out the shots. Just make sure you save him the last one, you know, for old times sake.
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