No Obama, Arenas, Wall for Wizards-Heat game
No President Barack Obama. No Gilbert Arenas. No John Wall.
Good thing the other team had LeBron James.
The Washington Wizards were short-handed in many ways Saturday
night against the Miami Heat.
First, Obama canceled plans to attend, with Secret Service
agents abruptly leaving the arena hours before tip-off. Then
Arenas, the colorful three-time All-Star, was traded to the Orlando
Magic for Rashard Lewis.
Finally, coach Flip Saunders confirmed that No. 1 overall pick
Wall would sit for the third straight game with right knee
At least the Wizards expected to have Josh Howard for the first
time this season. He was active after missing the first 24 games
with a torn ligament in his left knee.
The Arenas trade marks the end of an era for the Wizards, who
rode their version of the big three – Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler
and Arenas – to a string of playoff appearances before injuries and
Arenas’ misbehavior sent the franchise into a tailspin. Jamison and
Butler were traded last season as the team began a rebuilding
movement centered around Wall.
The Wizards now have only three players – Nick Young, Andray
Blatche and JaVale McGee – who were on the roster a year ago.
”We were just talking about that, me and JaVale,” Young said.
”When I came in, we made the playoffs my first year. We had a good
team that had been together for a while, and to see it all leave
over the years I’ve been here – it’s crazy.”
While the Wizards were happy to unload Arenas’ bad contract for
Lewis’ slighty-less-bad one, Young said Arenas was also in need of
a fresh start after a 50-game suspension and a felony conviction
last season for bringing guns to the locker room.
”He’s a good dude, a great player, and everything that happened
here, it was kind of tough on him, kind of made it hard it on
him,” Young said. ”He didn’t know his role and how he was going
to fit back in. It came with a lot of difficulties. To see him go
back home to get a fresh start and be on a winning team, I know
that’s something he would enjoy and hopefully he’ll continue to do
And now there’s no doubt that the Wizards will be led by Wall –
assuming the rookie can get healthy again. He has missed 10 of 25
games this season with various injuries.
”No one’s going to ask us whose team it is,” coach Flip
Saunders said. ”It’s his team, and so that comes with a lot of
responsibility. The critics who thought that Gilbert would hinder
his development, that’s not gong to be brought up any more.”