L.A. Lakers Must Avoid Toxic Gilbert Arenas to Keep Championship Dream Alive

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 24:  Gilbert Arenas #1 of the Orlando Magic looks at the scoreboard during the game against the Detroit Pistons at Amway Arena on January 24, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers could add yet another big name to their roster in the near future, although Gilbert Arenas' name is much bigger than his game at this point.

And the chances of such a thing happening are as yet unknown. We really don't even know that much about the veracity of the rumor, which suggests Arenas might also end up with the Clippers. Sure, most rumors leave something to be desired, but Larry Brown Sports reports that this one came straight from an auto-mechanic who just happened to chat it up with Arenas: 

My mechanic tells someone who tells someone else who publishes the story on his basketball blog Hoops-Nation. From there, it ends up on a Lakers blog, and then our friends at Black Sports Online picked up on it, which is where I saw the story.

Like any rumor, take it with a grain of salt—or maybe even a teaspoon of salt this time.

After all, the Lakers have given Arenas a look before, so it wouldn't be entirely shocking if they did so again.

The team does have some depth behind Steve Nash at the point, at least to whatever extent you consider Steve Blake and Chris Duhon to be depth. But it doesn't have a guy who can shoot off the dribble and create his own offense.

In theory, that's the first thing Los Angeles would want in the game when Steve Nash is sitting.

So yes, you can make an argument for bringing in Gilbert Arenas. It will sound a lot like the very same argument for signing Leandro Barbosa. There's some merit to it.

But in this case, there are far more risks than rewards.

Before you even get to all that could go wrong, bear in mind that the Lakers really don't need more scorers. Sure, it would be nice to have that traditional sixth-man spark plug, but it's by no means essential.

If anything, it just means that head coach Mike Brown should try to leave either Kobe or Nash in the game at any given time. It's what Phil Jackson did with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and it's just not that hard to rig a rotation so that there's always a playmaker in the game.

Maybe Blake isn't good for much besides the occasional spot-up three, and maybe Duhon is little more than a solid perimeter defender at this point, but the Lakers will take it.

Besides, we're talking about adding a guy who the Memphis Grizzlies only used for 12.4 minutes a game last season—it's not 2006 anymore.

So, even in the best-case scenario, the rewards associated with adding Arenas are minimal.

Now about those risks.

No, Agent Zero probably won't be pulling any locker-room gun stunts anytime soon, but this is also the guy who got in trouble with the NBA for comments made on Twitter in 2011. He's probably not a bad guy—in fact, he's probably one of the league's more entertaining and harmless personalities.

But whether he takes this game seriously enough to fit in with the kind of locker room L.A.'s putting together is a different story. As Dwight Howard is transforming into a hard-nosed winner and leaving the care-free persona behind, the last thing you want hanging around him is a guy who borders on juvenile at times.

It's also worth recalling that Arenas gave Stan Van Gundy guff for keeping him out of the starting lineup during his stint with Orlando.

Even if he's over that by now—and he'd have to be if he wants to play for the Lakers, or anyone really—it's an indication of what the Lakers would be getting themselves into.

Arenas may be entertaining, and he may even remain pretty talented, but he's not a team-first kind of guy. For a roster that just added a seven-foot Dwight Howard along with his eight-foot ego, team-first guys should remain the Lakers' priority for the foreseeable future.