Following a tumultuous 12-plus months — that began when he was busted for bringing guns into the Washington Wizards’ locker room last December followed by a season-ending suspension — former star Gilbert Arenas will be seeking a fresh start at his new home in Orlando.
Yep, Agent 0, we mean 6, has been traded to the Orlando Magic, in exchange for forward Rashard Lewis, reports NBA.com.
Despite Arenas helping DC make the playoffs for the first time in a decade and becoming one the league’s biggest threats, his legacy will be forever tainted by his now-infamous suspension, which left the Wizards in tatters.
Arenas was suspended for the final 50 games of last season, thanks to a prank and/or confrontation with then-teammate Javaris Crittenton last December, when he brought guns into the Verizon Center locker room. After pleading guilty to one felony count of carrying a pistol without a license, he served time in a D.C. halfway house.
When he finally returned this season, the Wizards were a much different team. They had just drafted John Wall with the #1 overall pick in the draft, and Arenas seemed content with sitting in the backseat while Wall drove the car and became the new face of the team.
His future in D.C. seemed uncertain…
“There’s no question. No one is ever going to ask whose team it is,” Coach Flip Saunders said, referring to Wall. “It’s his team, and so that comes with a responsibility. The critics or people who thought that maybe Gilbert would hinder his development, that’s not ever going to be brought up anymore. Hopefully what will happen, too, is he won’t ever have to defer to Gilbert, and it will facilitate his learning process.”
Since the start of the new NBA season, Arenas was playing reasonably well, leading the team in scoring with 17.3 points and 5.6 assists … until now, as the Arenas era in D.C. comes to a close, and he gets a fresh start in Orlando.
“Gilbert was really the first player I signed when I got here and he did a lot for this organization, but I think it was time for a change,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said during a news conference over the weekend. “It’s a fresh start for us and a fresh start for Gilbert.
“This is a new beginning for me,” Arenas told reporters on Saturday night (December 18) during the Magic’s game against the 76ers. “This is a true new beginning. Going back and changing my number wasn’t a new beginning. This is a real new beginning in a new city, new people, a new team. I get to start fresh.”
Many believed Arenas was untradeable, thanks to his off-court baggage and a contract worth around $62 million over the next three seasons after this one. But, his close relationship with with Magic General Manager Otis Smith — who mentored him during his early years in Golden State — helped push the deal along.
During Arenas’ time in D.C., he made the all-star team three times, and led the Wizards to their only second-round playoff appearance since 1982.