- athletes behaving badly,
- crime and punishment,
- Washington Wizards
- If you squint, it sort of looks like he's waving good-bye. (Photo: Associated Press)
Ken Berger of CBS Sports has confirmed that the Washington Wizards have traded shooting guard Gilbert Arenas, one of the most popular and controversial players in their franchise's history to the Orlando Magic for Rashard Lewis.
News of the trade broke just hours before both players were to take the court with their respective teams. The Wizards face the Miami Heat tonight at the Verizon Center (7:00 p.m., CSN), while the Magic host the Philadelphia 76ers. However, now that the trade has been finalized, Gilbert Arenas has played his last game for the Washington Wizards.
Lewis, who agreed to a six-year, $118-million sign-and-trade deal with the Magic from the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder) in the summer of 2007, is due $20.5 million this season, and is also due $22.1 million in 2011-12. Lewis could also make as much as $23.8 million in 2012-13, though only $10 millon of that money is guaranteed.
Arriving in 2003 as an unrestricted free agent from the Golden State Warriors, Arenas became a fan favorite in D.C. for his scoring ability, good deeds in the community and his quirky demeanor: during the 2006-07 season, he made a habit of shouting out "Hibachi!" after many of his made baskets.
In his pomp, Arenas was the star, centerpiece, and focus of Wizards teams that made the playoffs in four straight seasons (from 2004-05 to 2007-08). However, the Wizards failed to reach the second round of the NBA playoffs on three of those four occasions (they defeated the Chicago Bullets in six games in the first round of the 2005 playoffs before being swept by the Miami Heat).
2005-06 was Arenas's best season with the Wizards. That year, he started 80 of a possible 82 games, and averaged 29.3 points per game and 42.3 minutes per game, career highs in both categories. The Wizards finished that season with a 42-40 record and were knocked out of the playoffs after a hard-fought six-game series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the sixth and final game of the series, played at Verizon Center, Arenas missed two crucial free throws with 15.1 seconds remaining and the Wizards ahead 113-112. Damon Jones hit a jumper on the ensuing possession with four seconds remaining to give Cleveland the game and series victory.
Then the injuries began for Arenas. He missed the final eight games of the 2006-07 season after suffering a torn MCL. Deprived of his services, the Wizards lost a playoff rematch with the Cavaliers in a four game sweep. The next season, with knee injuries still bothering him, Arenas only played 13 of a possible 82 regular season games.
Undeterred by his hurts, Washington signed Arenas to a six-year, $111 million contract in the summer of 2008. Again, injuries plagued Arenas and he only played in two (2) games during the 2008-09 season. Then, Arenas's career took a bizarre turn.
On Christmas Eve, 2009, ESPN reported that the NBA was investigating Arenas for violating the league's rules against bringing firearms to an arena. Arenas admitted that he had stored several unloaded firearms in his locker at the Verizon Center in the past and had surrendered them to Wizards security.
On New Year's Day 2010, the New York Post reported that Arenas and then-teammate Javaris Crittenton had each drawn a firearm in an argument over gambling debts related to an ongoing card game. Five days later, the NBA suspended Arenas indefinitely after a bizarre scene during pregame introductions in Philadelphia on January 5. Following the introduction of the starting lineups, the Wizards danced in a circle around Arenas, who mimed shooting his teammates using his fingers as guns.
On January 14, after an investigation by the Metropolitan Police and U.S. Attorney's office, Arenas was charged with violating the District's gun-control laws by carrying an unlicensed pistol. Arenas pleaded guilty the next day and was eventually sentenced to two years probation and 30 days in a halfway house. On January 27, Arenas and Crittenton were suspended by the NBA for the rest of the season.
Arenas rejoined the Wizards this season, and was immediately confronted with the challenge of satisfying curious media and fans who wished to know how he could co-exist with Washington's Number 1 overall draft pick, John Wall. After a bizarre performance at the Wizards Media Day back in September, Arenas courted even more controversy in preseason when he admitted to faking a left knee injury and lying to head coach Flip Saunders about it. Arenas, who was fined $50,000 by Saunders for the fabrication, said at the time that he did it because he wanted Nick Young to receive more preseason playing time.
On the court, Arenas had struggled this season, averaging just 17.3 points on 39% shooting in 21 games. Even more disturbing for Arenas, once a feared outside shooter: he had made only 47 of the 145 three-pointers he'd taken this season (32.4%).
Arenas is currently in the third year of the six-year deal that he signed in the summer of 2008. He is slated to make $19.2 million, $ 20.8 million, and $22.3 million over the three seasons ending in 2013-14, on top of the $17.7 million he is due to make this season. He departs Washington with three Bullets/Wizards franchise records: most points in a game (60, set against the Los Angeles Lakers December 17, 2006), most turnovers in a game (12, set against the Miami Heat November 11, 2009), and most three-pointers made (868). He is also just the second player in franchise history to score 2,000 points in three straight seasons (2004-05 to 2006-07; Walt Bellamy is the other), and was the first player since Elvin Hayes to be named to an All-NBA team in at least three straight seasons (2004-05 to 2006-07 again; The Big E made All-NBA Teams from 1972-73 to 1976-77).