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ESPN Insider Debate:Should Orlando Trade for Arenas

Posted by Kevon Robinson on October 26, 2010 at 9:54 PM Comments comments (0)

The only thing Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard like to do more than report on the NBA is argue about the NBA. So we decided to combine those two skills for Insider's weekly One-on-One series, in which they'll debate the hottest topics in the association.


Question: Should the Orlando Magic trade for Gilbert Arenas?


BUCHER: It's no secret that the Washington Wizards are ready and willing to move Gilbert Arenas and complete the process of rebuilding around John Wall. The Orlando Magic seem to be the team with the most interest, and an Arenas-Vince Carter deal works from a salary-cap standpoint. I say get it done it already, Magic GM Otis Smith. What say you, Broussard?


BROUSSARD: I have to admit that I like that idea -- except for one thing: Arenas' health. If I'm Otis Smith, I want to wait until I see Arenas play for a month or two before I pull the trigger. For all I know, he's damaged goods. He's 28 years old, he's played only 47 games in three years, and he's already been sidelined by a groin injury. Plus, who knows if he's still an All-Star-caliber player for 82 games? Bottom line: It's too early to make that move right now.


 

RB: Would you like some syrup with that waffle? Every trade is a risk. Unless you can suggest someone else they can and should go get, Arenas is not just a possibility, he's a necessity.

 

I don't know if Arenas can be the difference-maker. But I do know the Magic need to make a move and take their best shot at a title right now. If Arenas shows he's the ol' Gil in a couple of months, then the market opens up more and maybe they don't get him, because the Wizards assuredly would prefer to move him out West. And then the Magic are toast as far as title hopes this year. Let's face it, Vince for Hedo (and Courtney Lee) turned out to be a bad deal. They needed Carter to be Vinsane and he just played like one of the guys.


CB: There are risks and then there are risks. All trades are risky, in that you never know exactly how a guy and a team will adjust. This one is risky for a whole different reason -- you don't know if Arenas can stay healthy or if he's still a perennial All-Star-type player. For all we know, Arenas may have a Penny Hardaway-type, post-surgery decline. Then what? You've mortgaged not only your present but also your future (three years, $60 million left after this season) for a troubled, over-the-hill time-bomb who, even when at his best, hasn't proven he can win. The guy Orlando should be trying to get is Carmelo Anthony.


 

RB: Wait a minute. You think he's a "troubled, over-the-hill time-bomb" who can't win, but you like the idea of trading for him if his knee is OK, because he can get back to being "a perennial All-Star"? Arenas is a wild card, no question, but when you know you have a losing hand and all your chips are already in the middle of the table, you have to take a new card and pray.


 

Carmelo Anthony? How does that even get on the board, seeing as Melo wants to go to a big-market team and Orlando has none of the things (high draft picks, young talent) Denver wants? Chris Paul is a better and more conceivable option, but the question is, if you're Orlando, do you go get Arenas? Again, I say yes.


 

CB: Don't twist my words. I'm saying AT THIS MOMENT Arenas looks like a troubled, over-the-hill time bomb. But if you wait a couple months and he proves he's healthy and is still an All-Star caliber player, then it's a deal worth strongly considering. Plus, why panic in October if you're the Magic? You're still a top-four team in the league. Start playing and see how your team comes together with the new wrinkles (playing bigger, etc.).


 

No matter how well Arenas plays, his value is not going to skyrocket; not with that fat contract as the league enters labor negotiations. If there is a hard cap, Arenas' contract will paralyze clubs more than ever. That's without mentioning the baggage he brings that's scaring off most teams. So Orlando will still be able to get him two months from now if they want him.


 

And pardon me if I squirm at your philosophy for running a team -- "take a new card and pray." I don't think you'll find that one in the GM handbook anytime soon.


RB: I didn't twist your words, I repeated them, verbatim. Arenas and Smith have a strong relationship going back to their Warriors days, so I have to think if Otis sticks his neck out for Gil he wouldn't step on it. And stop with the talk about how he'll impact them under the new CBA. They're already in cap hell, and teams will either get another amnesty deal where they can drop a big contract or rollbacks on all contracts.


 

CB: Cool it with the these current-contracts-don't-matter gibberish. You have no idea whether these deals will be revoked, lessened or diminished, as you claim. That's a possibility, but probably a long shot, as well. Either way, to make deals on the assumption that the new CBA's going to nullify these contracts is ridiculous.


 

Gilbert hasn't exactly rewarded friends well, so why would it be any different in Orlando? He was all for the hiring of Flip Saunders, and look how he's repaid him recently -- by lying to his face about a knee injury. Gilbert doesn't need coddling from pals -- that's why he's running roughshod in D.C. He needs an iron fist. Thing is, it's hard to have an iron fist when he's got $80 mil guaranteed coming his way.


 

 

 

RB: You're missing the point with all this prudence: Orlando has to go for it now. That means getting as much time as possible to get Arenas and Howard on the same page for a championship run. Otherwise, they risk having Howard join Paul and Anthony as stars looking around for a team with better title prospects.


 

Arenas didn't lie about a knee injury -- he wasn't going to play and pulled one of his pranks, suggesting afterward he faked an injury to let Nick Young play. He was fined for being a knucklehead, not actually faking an injury or lying to his coach. And he blew up into a player capable of landing that $80 million deal at Golden State because he wasn't coddled, and Otis was part of seeing to that.


 

CB: What do you mean he didn't lie to Flip?! He told Flip that morning at shootaround that his knee was sore, and that's why he wasn't going to play. Then, the day after sitting out, he completed a three-hour practice. Not to mention that Nick Young said he has no recollection of Arenas telling him he made up the injury. No matter whose story you believe, he undermined Flip. Period.


 

RB: Gil did Flip no favors, for sure, but I was just trying to help you understand what really happened. You took it as another chance to savage Arenas. Sounds to me as if you wouldn't -- or think you shouldn't -- want him under any circumstances. Trading for a guy with a suspect knee and a big contract is not the ideal scenario, and I wouldn't recommend it in just about any other circumstance. But for where the Magic are they have no choice but to roll the dice, because they have no other realistic way to get better right now.


 

CB: Even at his best, with other strong players in Antawn Jamison, Larry Hughes and Caron Butler, Arenas has been past the first round only once -- and he wasn't very special over those 10 games (shooting just 37 percent in averaging 23 points per game). Fact is, dude hasn't had as much playoff success as Vince Carter -- and you're ready to pull the trigger now, despite his history of injuries? Oh yeah, "let's just pray."


 

RB: They have a very good team, but Vince disappeared last spring in the very situations they expected him to step up. Jameer Nelson tried to fill that role, but he couldn't get it done. Gil, for all his many faults, is not afraid of taking big shots, and he's got more game than Jameer. That's what the Magic lost when they moved Hedo, and that's what they need again if they don't want to risk losing Howard.


 

CB: I'm not a Gil-hater, but what he did last week was incredibly inappropriate under his circumstances. It screams, "I didn't learn a thing from last year." Do you really want to bring that into your title-contending locker room without seeing the guy play for an extended stretch? Orlando has been straight pummeling teams this preseason. I know it's easy to dismiss the preseason, but sometimes it's a precursor, like in 2002 when the Nets got Jason Kidd. You could see from preseason they were going to be great.


 

Trading for Gil right now is a panic move, and the Magic don't need to panic just yet. Think about it -- do they become a favorite to beat Boston or Miami or L.A. with Gilbert? No. They stay right where they are. So just wait a few months to see how Gil looks, see how Vince and the Magic look, before making a deal and praying.


 

RB: If, if, if. The question is should Orlando deal for Gil? The Magic are rolling, and their chemistry is great, from what I hear. But they are inherently flawed as a postseason team; the playoffs proved that. One big reason is they don't have a playoff-caliber go-to guy. Can Arenas be that? I don't know, but he's more capable than anyone they have. Is he a risk? Absolutely. So were Vernon Maxwell, Rasheed Wallace, Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest. All of whom are wearing rings.


 

CB: All the guys you mentioned were role players, even Rasheed when he won his ring in Detroit. They weren't the "go-to" type of guys you mentioned that the Magic need. It's one thing to have a wild-card role player, but when your go-to guy is a wild card, you're playing with fire.


 

RB: Maxwell was indeed the Houston Rockets' perimeter go-to guy in '94; Rodman was the third-most important player on those Chicago Bulls teams; Rasheed was merely the best player the Detroit Pistons had; and Artest, while a role player, was MVP of Game 7 in the Finals. All four were indispensable to winning a ring. You have this idea that Gil is either an All-Star or a one-legged cancer, and since there's no guarantee he can be the former, he's going to be the latter.


 

Orlando doesn't need him to be an All-Star -- they need him to take, and make, big shots, because they've got everything else pretty much covered. Half the battle is finding a guy who will be in attack mode every time out with the game on the line. Gil, for all his warts, has never been reluctant to put that on his shoulders.


 

 

 

CB: All those guys you mentioned were still essentially role players, except Rasheed. And he was one of four stars who were equally important to those Pistons teams. I'm not saying Gilbert is either one of those two extremes. What I'm saying is that, since he's paid like a superstar, if he's anything less than that he isn't worth bringing to Orlando. If he's the Gil of old and the Magic look like they need help, go get him. But if the Magic continue the dominance they've shown this preseason, and Gil continues the foolishness and gimpiness, then fuhgedaboutit!



 

Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher are senior writers for ESPN The Magazine.



Site Kick-Off

Posted by Kevon Robinson on October 26, 2010 at 9:47 PM Comments comments (0)

First blog entry of the new website...


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