Since Gun-Gate and the subsequent fallout, multiple reports have surfaced indicating that Gilbert Arenas was just as miffed with the franchise, supposedly for not supporting him enough, as the franchise was with him for bringing guns into the locker room and subsequently reacting in an immature manner.
Since, Arenas has been forcibly out of sight and seemingly out of the minds of most, many figuring that the team, in cost-cutting mode, would attempt to either void Arenas’ contract or buy him out this summer.
In his trade deadline press conference Thursday afternoon, Ernie Grunfeld was surprisingly candid when asked about Arenas’ situation and used language pertaining to the guard’s potential return to the team that was quite surprising.
While many took the taking down of Arenas’ banner, the halting of his jersey sales, and the removal of his picture from certain, but not all places within the Verizon Center to mean that the franchise was completely cutting ties with their fallen star, Grunfeld seemed to indicate that wasn’t completely the case.
“If he wants to play, this is the place he’s going to play,” was probably Grunfeld’s most telling quote. He also said, “He’s under contract with us, we think he’s going to be back here with us,” giving further indication that he still considers Arenas part of the organization. Grunfeld also made sure to remind people that Arenas has four years left on his contract, so he is still technically part of the organization.
When asked about his relationship with Arenas, Grunfeld simply answered, “It’s fine.” He said that the organization has been in touch with Arenas and that he’s been working with the team’s trainers.
Grunfeld did say things “remain to be seen,” regarding Arenas’ situation. Gilbert is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26 for his guilty plea to a felony crime. Grunfeld also profusely used one of his favorite phrases, “It’s a process,” but that more so referred to the team as a whole.
Make what you will of Grunfeld’s language. He could simply be posturing, as it would be silly to throw lighter fluid and a match on the bridge between Arenas and the franchise that’s already severely charred. Whether you want to keep the guy or not, it’s better that both parties are on good terms in order to negotiate the future.
Still, it seems the door for a possible return of Arenas to the Wizards has been opened significantly. If you asked me yesterday about the chances of Gil coming back, I would have said 20-percent. Ask me today and I’d speculate those chances have doubled to 40-percent.
Again, it’s hard to read too much into Grunfeld’s words, but I’ll guarantee that I’m not the only one who was surprised by their nature. A lot can and will happen between now and next season, but it’s safe to say that the possibility of both sides making amends is stronger than they ever have been.