With the Washington Wizards sitting at 10-21 headed into their game against the Sixers, the biggest story of the season should be how awfully they have played in comparison to the expectations going into this season.
Gilbert Arenas did the sports world one better by bringing firearms into the equation. He made the top stories on ESPN, which should be worth something right?
For those of you who believe otherwise, there is such a thing as bad publicity, and this is exactly it. In a foolish attempt to generate a laugh despite tensions between him and teammate Javaris Crittenton, Arenas produced a "modest" collection of guns as part of a joke.
We know how the joke went, and now Arenas is at the center of various investigations.
D.C. law enforcement officials are looking into the violations Arenas committed in possessing firearms in an area in which they were not registered, and the NBA is looking into the fact that he had them stored in his locker. The latter is in direct violation of NBA regulations, and could carry a substantial find and/or suspension.
The ruling from the NBA and law enforcement will have immediate impact on Arenas, but it is what the Wizards do that is the most important for the future of the team.
It is absurd to think that the Wizards will be able to trade away the $100 million contract attached to Arenas, even after this whole gun situation settles down. He used to just be a pain because of his blog and comments to the media. Now he is a downright distraction.
The Knicks are less of a trainwreck at this point, and at least they have a plan for the future, sort of.
Arenas has put up decent numbers this year, averaging 22 points, seven assists, and four rebounds per game, but he is clearly not the same player that "earned" the big contract. The Wizards paid Arenas based on the idea that he could return to averaging 28 points per game and hitting game winners.
The Wizards have yet to see a return on their investment, and are literally paying for it now.
So if the if they can't trade him for a reasonable return, what can the Wizards do?
The obvious answer is moving their more reasonably priced stars, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Jamison is older, a bit undersized and may be better suited for a role as sixth man, but is still incredibly valuable. Butler is a hard-nosed player with a good reputation as a hard worker, even if his stats this year are down from previous seasons.
The best options are to get the most value out of what little they have to offer. Butler and Jamison present the best chance of getting a decent return.
The Rockets turned down an insult of an offer for Tracy McGrady, but that is because it didn't include much from the Wizards. At this point, I would condone a move including Arenas and either Butler or Jamison for McGrady and a pick. Or Butler and Jamison for McGrady and a pick.
That would free up cap room by getting rid of two of the bigger contracts on the payroll, and bring in a decent veteran. More importantly, it would bring in a pick.
The draft has been gravely undervalued by the Wizards, and who could blame them with names like Kwame Brown and Oleksiy Pecherov haunting them?
The unpopular option for the Wizards would be to stand pat and ride out the rest of the season, or worse, the rest of the big contracts. It is the least logical move if the team hopes to have any success beyond a first round playoff cup of coffee. It would be the most feasible given the financial state they are in.
The Wizards can't take part in the free-for-all free agency class coming at the end of this season because of the money they have invested in their current roster.
It really is a pity considering it includes pretty much every big name superstar in the NBA today. LeBron James, betrothed to the Knicks, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, the level of talent available is enough to make you sick in the best way possible. No superstars for Washington, though.
Just overachievers and distractions for the Wizards to rest their laurels on.
With the ownership of the Wizards still up in the air, it would be difficult to make a move right now. The best possible scenario is that Capitals owner Ted Leonsis takes the opportunity and does to the Wizards what he did for the Caps.
Clean house, level with the fans, and build for the future.
Ernie Grunfeld could be the man responsible for parting ways with the established names on the team a la the Knicks circa 1998-99. He got fired for throwing the team into utter turmoil when he traded everyone except Patrick Ewing, but the Knicks are in the LeBron sweepstakes now. A much better position than the Wizards by a longshot.
If we lived in the perfect world, the Wizards would find a way to move Arenas and Jamison, and DeShawn Stevenson just to ship his joke of a game elsewhere. Brendan Haywood could bring in something for the way he has played this season.
There are several young players that haven't had many chances to show what they can do.
A reasonable lineup without Jamison, Arenas or Stevenson would consist of Randy Foye, Nick Young/Mike Miller, Butler, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee. Most of them may be unproven, but then at least the Wizards would have an excuse for being bad.
The only thing the current starters have proven is that they are just good enough to disappoint fans when they can't take the next step in being successful.
If I know one thing, it is that people will do anything in their power to get out of a bad situation. This team is a bad situation and whoever ends up taking up the ownership will most certainly do what they can to change that.
Sports fans in Washington have shown they are willing to wait for success. The Wizards have a chance to start over as long as they are willing to take some hits on what they can get in return for the players.
The Verizon Center may be a bit ugly when the hardwood is on display, but at least it would be in the name of progress.