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

tendinitis.

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

good. ”

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.”