The Gilbert Arenas Poison Pill Article | Wizards Blog Truth About

The Gilbert Arenas Poison Pill Article

Updated: May 21, 2010

John Mitchell has covered the Washington NBA franchise for a long time now. He used to work the team’s beat for the Washington Times and in the present day can often be found writing about league matters, and the Wizards, on Mitchell lives in the area and attended many games this past season.

More recently, Mitchell wrote an in-depth piece, “Why the Washington Wizards will axe Arenas,” for The

According to one source with intimate knowledge of the team’s plans, the Wizards front office, headed up by President Ernie Grunfeld, doesn’t want Arenas – released earlier this month from a Washington DC halfway house after serving 30 days for a felony gun conviction – anywhere near Wall, whom the team has already decided it will select with the top pick in the June draft. After Arenas was convicted Grunfeld traded away four starters.

One source tagged Arenas as “the reason why a core of players that reached the playoffs” on multiple occasions had to be broken up, “and it was entirely due to what he did. He poisoned the team. He is a cancer.”

Mitchell then implores readers not to be fooled by Ernie Grunfeld speaking positively about Arenas.

Don’t be fooled by this. Grunfeld will continue to speak highly of Arenas because as a rule no general manager speaks negatively about a player he is trying to move for fear of looking as though he is about to conduct a fire sale.

True, perhaps.

Grunfeld is known for playing his cards real close, barely short of wearing a turtle-neck, dark glasses and a hooded sweatshirt at the poker table. On the other hand, Ernie could be playing nice because he knows he might be stuck with Gilbert. Either way you want to chop it, it’s probably a good idea that Grunfeld didn’t publicly read the riot act to Gilbert.

Grunfeld continued to support Arenas even though there were multiple reports that the relationship between the two had deteriorated beyond repair. Back in January, Sports Illustrated reported that “league sources said Grunfeld was shopping Arenas before the December incident. And Arenas has told confidants that he has no desire to play for Washington again. His relationship with Grunfeld, which was once considered one of the strongest player-executive relationships in the NBA, has eroded to the point that the two have barely spoken over the last two months.”

Yes, I too have found it curious that in his past couple public appearances, Grunfeld has continued to admit that he has not spoken directly with Arenas. Seems like something two grown men would have done already.

Has water started to slowly flow under the bridge during this hiatus? Or is Grunfeld letting the distress of Gun-Gate boil over to the point where he can only release his steam by showing Arenas the door, no matter the cost?

Either way, early reports that Arenas felt he was “done wrong” by Grunfeld and the franchise would seemingly indicate little understanding and remorse from the player. So it’s imaginable that Arenas might have crossed a point of no return with Ernie, especially if he did not properly apologize. But if a manager doesn’t reach out to his employee, he might not be managing very well.

Mitchell paints a picture that could be getting a little too personal within the franchise. And that may be justified. With Arenas’ antics, jobs were on the line … mainly because Gil, but also because the flaws of the enablers and the poor way in which the entire situation was handled came more to light.

I’ve expressed why I think a Gilbert Arenas-John Wall combination might work. I’ve expressed faith that Arenas might be able to change for the better. I’ve also criticized Arenas a ton in the past, certainly more than I’ve shed praise upon him (of course, this blog stared in lat 2007 … not very pro-Gilbert times since). So don’t confuse me with an adoring fan blinded by his candid nature or with an Arenas apologist.

If it’s time for him to go, it’s time for him to go. Trust in this decision falls into the hands of new owner Ted Leonsis, a man who says he’s predisposed to liking Arenas, who he also describes as a “sweet kid.”

So put down the phone ringing for Poison Control. Don’t start chemotherapy treatment for the cancer just yet. Arenas’ boarding pass out of town hasn’t been issued. Let Mr. Leonsis sit down with the guy, play video games and do whatever they need to do first.

There’s a lot of substance to Mitchell’s piece. Surely there are many in the Wizards organization who think trading Arenas is a must. Maybe those people are decision makers, maybe they are not.

But whomever is pointing to Arenas being the sole reason why the entire unstable house of cards came crashing down has an agenda. I have no idea what that agenda might be, but throwing out words like “poison” and “cancer” when the franchise is trying to move forward in a positive manner doesn’t jibe with the ‘Business of Happiness’ plan and might not fly for much longer in the future.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.

  • Alli A

    First, Ted please change the colors back to blue red and white with stars and stripes. Keep the knickname, just get rid of the teal. For the love of god please !

  • Alli A

    And I think if we can pull a sign and trade with Memphis to ship out Gil and get Rudy would be amazing. I know it’s asking for a lot and I’d be willing to throw in mcgee and a first but ten we’d be ableto save some money, or possibly go for a Carlos boozer?

  • Barno

    Mitchell’s piece is complete bs. This anonymous source is not Ernie Grunfeld and is not Ted Leonsis–the guys whose opinion actually matters. Both of those men want Gilbert back. End of story.

  • I wanted to initially dismiss that Arenas article, but Mitchell has credibility, and he was around the team quite often this season. Damn the LeBron free agency drama, this Arenas story and whether he’ll stay or go, is much more interesting.

  • I can’t dismiss the article as B.S. — Mitchell is more than credible and the scenario seems plausible.

    However, at the same time, it could be just one opinion within the organization among many …. this isn’t the first time differing opinions from within have been reported.

    I’m taking my cues from Leonsis.

    The most curious part, however, is if Grunfeld wants to keep mum on Arenas so as not to hurt his value any more than it is, why is someone else in the organization running their mouth, possibly serving as a detriment to getting rid of him?

  • the article does seem a little odd especially with its timing. who in the organization would leak that we are definitely doing anything these days when secrecy about our intentions should be top priority.
    i think Leonsis will be able to make clear to Arenas that while he is still valued on the team, he is no longer “the guy” around which the team will build until Arenas proves that he can behave and play with some more consistency.
    everyone said Haynesworth would be traded too and so far that hasn’t happen. so all of this is just opinion unless it comes out of Leonsis’ mouth.

  • arthur T

    Grunfeld is as much a failure as a team president than Gilbert has been as a player. If the story is true then hopefully he will be gone before he has a chance to make any moves.

  • Sharon

    Grunfeld is that needs to go. That lockeroom ALWAYS had drama. EX. Haywood and Etan, EJ and the younguns. I can go on and on. To blame this team’s demise on Gil is not only unfair but straight up wrong! Gil’s lockeroom antics were symptomatic of a bigger issue going on with the Wizards. I hope Leonsis don’t let EG make any decisions regarding Gil without him. Gil has done his time and people need to back TFO ,leave him alone
    and give him a chance to redeem himself. If he doesn’t pan out this season, then let him go but I have a feeling that all of you naysayers will be glad cooler heads prevailed and we kept him on our team.

  • GReg C

    I just hope they do the right thing and draft John Wall….I think we have talent to win some games but these guys have to listen to Flip, play defense, and compete every night. I can’t believe it but that roster had 26 wins…imagine if they “Go all in” and Show some “character” …they may be in the playoff’s next year or at least close to it…I hope Gilbert chooses to get with the program in Washington..he has a lot to prove to everyone and i think he may step up to the challenge whether its in Washington or another NBA city…

  • Max Levitt

    Think about how great we would be if we had swallowed our pride and not traded away caron, jamison and haywood. With Wall coming in that would be a Championship team no question. Too bad.

  • ROb

    I think Grunfeld needs to admit he stayed with Caron too long. He had a value contract (8mil a year i think), but he was a ball hog and ruined chemistry. He also made a bad trade last summer. the wizards could have had stephen curry or brandon jennings. Randy Foye didnt exactly work out. And the wiz made this trade in part to get rid of 2 guys Grunfeld brought in (pecherov was drafted) and signed (Etan Thomas to a horrible contract). also. the wiz have always needed a real 4!

  • Grunfeld will never do so publicly …

    But I almost take him saying “the team got stale” comment multiple times as “I left the damn bread out exposed to air for too long and I forgot to go to the store.”

    At least in the ‘he should be blamed’ manner …

  • Do you think Gilbert Arenas could be used in a possible Carmelo Anthony trade? Is Washington a sleeper?