Gilbert Arenas Could Be a Solution for the Toronto Raptors' Problems

Mark BirdsellContributor IIIJune 1, 2010

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards sits on the bench during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Wizards 121-95. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

According to a recent interview with a Turkish television station, Hedo Turkoglu wants to leave Toronto.  This comes one year after he signed a five-year $53 million contract.

Raptor Nation began to turn on Turkoglu after he missed a game in late March.  He claimed to be suffering from a stomach virus, but was then spotted out at a club after the game.  Turkoglu maintains that this took place only 100 meters away from his apartment and he stayed for only 15 minutes. 

This incident combined with Turkoglu’s sub-par season led to a series of boos and criticism.  Now Hedo is hoping to have a new address next season.

Bryan Colangelo’s official position is not to comment.  The Raptors organization has decided to deal with this internally.  However, the likely result is that Turkoglu will be traded this summer. 

Colangelo has his work cut out for him. 

He needs to find a trade partner to take on Turkoglu’s remaining four-years and $42 million. 

He also must try to resign Chris Bosh or hope to work out a sign-and-trade so the Raptors don’t once again lose their franchise player with little to show for it.

There are a number of possible destinations for Hedo.  A lot of teams have “bad contracts” and might be willing to trade their troubled stars for ours.

My thought is how about Gilbert Arenas?

Now before you even start reading this paragraph I know what everyone is thinking.  Why would Toronto want a player who was convicted on gun charges and received a two-year suspended sentence.  He signed a six-year, $111 million contract in July 2008 and has only played 34 games since.  As well, he has missed 199 out of a possible 246 games over the last three seasons.

All of those are very good reasons for not signing Arenas.  He comes with a lot of baggage.  He’s coming off a knee injury and who knows if he will ever be the player he was.

However, let me throw out two names—Latrell Sprewell and Rasheed Wallace.

In 1997 Sprewell was suspended for 68 games after an incident in which he ended up choking then-coach P.J. Carlesimo (who it was just announced will be joining the Raptors as an assistant coach).

Sprewell was traded to the New York Knicks.  This was seen as a big gamble for the Knicks but his intensity and solid play won over the fans.  Sprewell, Allan Houston, and Larry Johnson led the Patrick Ewing-less Knicks to the NBA Finals, losing in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.

Sprewell was subsequently traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004.  He teamed with Sam Cassell and Kevin Garnett, leading the team to the Western Conference Finals.

Despite Sprewell’s troubles, he changed himself and became an integral part in two very successful teams.

The other name is Rasheed Wallace.  Wallace was a member of the famed “Jail Blazers.”  He was arrested for marijuana possession and suspended seven games for threatening a referee.  The team was an embarrassment. 

However, in 2004 he became a member of the Detroit Pistons and turned out to be the missing link.  He helped the Pistons beat a star-studded Los Angeles Laker team featuring four future Hall of Famers. 

This season Wallace signed a contract with the Boston Celtics, a team which is about to compete in its second NBA Finals in three seasons.

Now, before Gilbert Arenas got hurt and was arrested, he was a three-time All-Star, three-time member of the All-NBA teams and the 2002-03 Most Improved Player of the Year. 

Arenas was a star and capable of dominating a game.

His time in Washington is all but over.  The Wizards won the draft lottery and are expected to select Kentucky guard John Wall.  Wall is projected to be the next great point guard, making Arenas redundant.

However, the Toronto Raptors could use someone of Arenas’ ability.  A player that is able to create his own shot.  That is able to break players down off the dribble.  The All-Star guard that the Raptors have long been missing.

This is a high-risk, high-reward situation.  A move like this could end up blowing up in Colangelo’s face, but it is just the type of bold move he is known to make.

A straight-up Turkoglu for Arenas trade is not possible since their salaries don’t match up.  Arenas makes almost twice as much as Turkoglu does.

The Raptors could send Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack and Reggie Evans (or Marcus Banks) to Washington in exchange for Arenas and Al Thornton.

This works for both teams.  The Wizards get Turkoglu, a play-making forward who could help ease the transition for Wall.  Jack has proved himself to be a very effective combo-guard.  Finally, the team receives the expiring contract of either Evans or Banks.

Whereas, the Raptors get Arenas a former All-Star point guard and Thornton a very talented young wing player who fills the void left by Turkoglu.

The Raptors would still be left with a logjam at point guard, but Colangelo could look to remedy that situation later in the summer.

This trade for Arenas, along with resigning Amir Johnson, the 13th overall draft pick, and whatever assets Toronto gets back from any sign-and-trade deal with Bosh makes the Raptors a very interesting looking team next season.

Ultimately, the team will need to move Turkoglu.  He’s not happy and will be a distraction if he stays with in Toronto. 

Why not swing for the fences and acquire one of the most talented, yet troubled, guards in the league.