You may think yesterday’s press conference introducing Fabricio Oberto was about closure … about finalizing the chapter on 2009 summertime movement … about alleviating the angst of Wizards fans hoping for a reliable big man to secure depth.
You’re wrong. Yesterday was all about Gilbert Arenas.
As soon as it was mentioned that coach Flip Saunders, who has been visiting almost all of the players on his team in their summertime locale, made a trip to Chicago to check on Arenas, zealous ears perked up.
Maybe media types assume fans are hungry for Agent Zero morsels since the all-star’s self-imposed moratorium on communication of any type. Or perhaps Arenas’ “so goes him so goes the team” importance is realized whereas any little bit of information about him needs to be magnified and manufactured into web hits.
Whatever the case may be, the assumption that this is ‘The Year of Gilbert Arenas’ is 100% correct. New found depth be damned. You know it, I know it … we all know it. This team is going nowhere unless Agent Zero’s Takeover (part 3 or ‘reloaded again‘ … I’m not sure which one we’re on) reigns supreme.
2009 is the Chinese year of the ox, meaning a strong beginning for the Wizards is absolutely imperative. In 2010, the Chinese new year starts on February 14th … The Year of the Tiger. Guess who plays their home games in Chinatown and has a big tattoo of a tiger on his chest/stomach … exactly.
But in terms of Saunders’ “assessment” of Gilbert Arenas … it was diplomatic, non-committal, predictable, and a bit optimistic. I mean, he wouldn’t exactly say much if he didn’t think Arenas looked good, but I suppose it’s better than him saying Gil has a “way to go.” Nonetheless, Arenas-related comments at Oberto’s presser were properly dispersed amongst the W.W.Web.
While Saunders added that Arenas has regained his confidence, quickness and scoring touch, he also intimated that while the three-time all-star has made progress, there is still the potential for a setback. With the additions of Randy Foye and Mike Miller, however, the Wizards suddenly have the depth to endure any short-term absence by Arenas.
“He’s worked really hard. His strength in that left leg is off the charts. When he went down there, he could do reverse leg press — you know, his left leg laying down — 75 pounds. Now he’s pressing 315. His left leg has improved that much. He looks good, he’s getting to the basket well on the court. His quickness is back. He’s getting his confidence back.”
Arenas, according to Saunders, is playing in a ProAm league in Chicago and the coach said “he told me he’s averaging like 44 points a game.”
While training in Chicago, Arenas also regularly plays five-on-five games, often doing head to head with fellow Grover clients Dwyane Wade, O.J. Mayo and Will Bynum.
Flip said the Wizards have no concerns about Arenas risking further injury or setback while playing in the ProAm or Grover client pickup games.
According to new Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders, Gilbert Arenas looks good in the weight room and on a basketball court.
“He gets to wherever he wants to get on the court. His quickness is back,” the coach said. “He’s getting his scoring touch back, and he’s getting his confidence back. He’s excited about where he’s at. He looks good. His weight is lower than it’s been in the last few years. … He feels he’s got some things to prove.”
Can we really believe Flip Saunders? Or … should we put more stock in someone like Andre Igoudala?
While we can easily believe both Saunders and Igoudala, we are in an age where a tweet from an NBA player provides more of a valid confirmation on Arenas’ status than copious amounts of quotes from Arenas’ new coach who made a courtesy visit to see him. Igoudala also has no reason to sugarcoat an ‘in passing’ assessment of Arenas.
But still, Wizards fans can’t help but take such reports, from any source, with a shoulder shurg and a “we will see.” We’ve been conditioned to do so over the past two seasons and three knee surgeries. No need to get hyped at the consideration that Arenas might be firing up the hibachi and cooking the entire league.
Then again, the thought is pretty exciting, isn’t it?