After another knee surgery, Gilbert Arenas will have to wait to prove he’s worth $111 million.
After signing a six-year, $111 million contract in July, Gilbert Arenas will have to wait at least until December to find out if he can return to near-MVP form. Arenas had a third operation on his left knee that nearly shut him down completely last season, missing 69 regular-season games.
Some Wizard fans are excited to see Arenas stay in Washington and anxious to see if he can return back to “Agent 0,” Arenas’ alter ego.
“My first initial thoughts were “great,” Wizards season ticket holder Brian Permut said. “I was glad we gave him that big contract, but after my initial reaction I thought more sensibly though. I’d much rather have him get done whatever needs to get done in order for him to come back as the player he was before the injury.”
Permut has been a season ticket holder for the last three seasons and enjoys the home games at the Verizon Center, being that Arenas is typically the main attraction. Arenas getting back to true form is the question that everyone wants to have answered.
“I think Arenas is one of the best scorers in the NBA when healthy. He works hard, is determined and always strives for improvement,” Permut said. “He also doesn’t seem to feel much pressure and is someone who you want to have the ball in clutch situations. The only question mark is whether his knee will ever be 100 percent again. He seemed to have come back too early last season and was far from his normal self.”
The Washington Wizards finished 43-39 last season making the playoffs without their star point guard. The Wizards showed a high consistency of play not expected without the help of Arenas and were led by breakout seasons from forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Head Coach Eddie Jordan did not seem to panic when he found out that Arenas would miss the beginning of the regular season.
“We feel confident in the players that we have and the way we played last year, the way we shared the ball, moved the ball, played defense and made the playoffs,” Jordan said recently in an Associated Press story.
Some people were skeptical after Wizards’ General Manager Ernie Grunfeld signed Arenas to the huge contract, but Grunfeld believes in Arenas. “We are optimistic that he is going to recover and be a star for us again,” Grunfeld told AP.
With the success of the team last season, the most interesting storyline for the team would have been trying to get Arenas back into the rotation. The team grew without Arenas last season with improvements in statistical categories like scoring defense and assists.
“The injury won’t affect the Wizards,” Vince Gatling, a senior at Florida A&M University and huge NBA fan, said. “With him or without him, they will make the playoffs and lose in the first round. They have proven that the last few years. With him, they will have more talent. But without him, they will have a better chemistry so it all balances out.”
Arenas has been in the top 10 in replica jersey sales in the NBA for the past three years. He has become one of the most popular figures in not only the NBA but also in the District. His popularity alone proves his worth to the franchise.
“It is a business after all, and Gilbert will put fans in the seats,” Permut said. “I’ve grown up with the Bullets/Wizards and they’ve always been a team where the bigger turnouts are to see the stars from visiting teams. Gilbert changed that.”
“He was the most popular athlete in a city where Redskins are Gods,” he added. “That’s big. A basketball player has never been the most popular athlete in D.C. From a business perspective it made sense to keep him because of his popularity. No other Wizard/Bullet has sold as many jerseys or ever been on the covers of video games.”
The Wizards started training camp late last month with their first regular season game scheduled for Oct. 29 at home against the New Jersey Nets.