Blog Entry

Arenas, Flip not on the same page

Posted on: November 8, 2009 5:31 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2009 6:21 pm
WASHINGTON – It’s bad enough that the Wizards have lost four straight games, dropping to 2-5 at the start of a season that began with such high expectations. When your coach and best player can’t even agree on what’s wrong, that’s a sure sign of more losses to come.

Yes, it’s early, and the Wizards are without two key players, Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller. And yes, Sunday’s 102-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns came in a game that tipped off at 1 p.m. ET, an anomaly that elicited a smile and guffaw from the suddenly talkative Gilbert Arenas after the game. One thing you don’t want to do in the NBA is roll out of bed and start chasing Steve Nash and the Suns around.

The Wizards are too talented to be scuffling like this for long, and when they get healthy, they’ll be right about where people expected them to be – a team in the mid-40s in wins seeded somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But not if they don’t erase some bad habits that simply have no place in an offense constructed by Flip Saunders. And not until everyone understands what the problem is.

The good news is that defensively, the Wizards are no longer a pushover. I wasn’t as impressed with their defensive performance against Phoenix on Sunday as Saunders was, but maybe he was trying to mix in a little positive in his post-game analysis of an effort that produced only 15 assists – five of them by Fabricio Oberto. That was two fewer assists than Nash dished out all by himself.

Saunders was right when he described the Wizards’ offense as “stagnant.” Arenas was right when he said the team is still “trying to find out where we are, what we are.” The common ground ended there.

“We’re just trying to figure out how we can put the ball in the basket, what coach wants from each player,” Arenas said. “That’s what we’re struggling with.”

Once again on Sunday, the ball wasn’t moving, the cuts weren’t crisp enough, and there was little trust in the system that Saunders brought here. The typical offensive set consisted of someone getting the ball on the wing, dribbling toward the basket, and shooting. Yet listen to Arenas’ assessment: He thinks the Wizards aren’t shooting fast enough.

“I say it’s when we have shots open, we’re not taking them,” Arenas said. “We’re trying to do the extra dribble, or get closer to the rim, or pass the ball an extra time when we could just take the first shot. If you look at a team like Phoenix, the reason they don’t have turnovers is they’re launching ‘em. They’re letting it fly so they don’t have a chance to turn the ball over.”

Contrary to Arenas’ assessment, the Wizards’ brass knows the opposite is true. The Wiz need to play more structured offense and pass the ball more, not less. Under previous regimes, bad habits ruled. Saunders’ efforts to eradicate those bad habits have been met with the kind of resistance that results in a team with three 20-point scorers (when healthy) hitting the 100-point plateau only twice in seven games.

“We’ve just got to get better acquainted with one another and believe in one another,” said Caron Butler, who needed 20 field-goal attempts to score 19 points against the Suns. “But it’s early.”

It is, but the Wizards already are exhibiting some tell-tale signs of a team with fragile chemistry. After a deplorable 102-86 loss at Indiana Friday night, Jamison unleashed a profane tirade in the locker room. It was first reported that Jamison overturned a fruit tray in the process, but there were indications on Sunday that the perpetrator might’ve been Saunders, who wouldn’t fess up. Either way, somebody had better nail the postgame spreads to the table if the Wizards don’t get on the same page soon.

Jamison and Miller will be back in another week or so from their respective shoulder injuries, and things will get better. Until then, it doesn’t get any easier Tuesday night in Miami against Dwyane Wade. At least that game tips off after the sun goes down.

Since: Nov 4, 2009
Posted on: November 9, 2009 12:41 pm

Arenas, Flip not on the same page

To Me, Caron Butler hit the nail on the head. The team just needs a little time to get adjusted again. OK so Gilbert is a little off with his comments about getting the ball up early. The Wizards are not and cannot be the Suns, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

This club will no doubt be a better defensive minded team than it was last year, and I think Butler will end up stepping up his defensive prowess even more. At the same time you look at the fact that Gilbert wasn't around last year and now you've got four legit offensive threats on the floor almost all the time. That can get a little hairy, especially when one of them absolutely demands attention all the time (Arenas obviously).

The bottom line as far as offense goes is that this team won't have trouble putting points up. Yes, the loss to Indiana was unsightly, but it's better it happened early than late. As for the outburst of rage, it could have a positive effect. Who knows. Either way, this team will finish exactly the way you stated previously, middle of the road.

Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: November 9, 2009 8:24 am

Arenas, Flip not on the same page

The point Berger makes is accurate and you can even see it in Gilbert Arenas body language on the court...

Unlike the other posters so far, I do think Gil can be an effective playmaker and we have ample evidence of this. But I do not think that Flip Saunders hit the right tone by essentially saying that he wanted Gil to be a clone of Chauncey Billups. The difference between the two players is that it took Billups, a number 3 draft choice who disappointed in Boston, a little while to find his niche, while Arenas was a second round draft choice with a chip on his shoulder and a lot to prove who came out gunning, achieved great success as a scorer and crowd pleaser, and in all likelihood does not feel that he needs to have his game dramatically reconstructed.... His main concern has to be getting back to where he can play his traditional game on a reconstructed knee and anything else that Flip lays on him is simply excess baggage at this point.

What Arenas does need.. and he has said so... is a running mate at guard who plays an attacking offensive game similar to his as Larry Hughes did in 2005. If Randy Foye cannot be that player then it may be that Ernie Grunfeld needs to make a quick deal to bring in, gsap, a Stephen Jackson or Allan Iverson to start alongside Gil. This may sound high risk but the Wizards have made no bones about saying that their future is now and next year.

It wont hurt to wait until Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller come back from their injuries, which really have damaged the development of this team, before making any snap decisions but the grab bag of not quite ideal fits at the 2 guard that the Wizards have on hand right now is not a long term answer.

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: November 8, 2009 9:12 pm

Arenas has always been overrated

Gilbert Arenas isn't a scorer, he's a shooter.  Not a shooter like Reggie Miller was.  He's a shooter like he won't stop shooting the basketball and it doesn't matter how many times he misses.  With the talent the Wizards have, once Jamison returns it is quite apparent that the Wizards should do whatever it takes to move Gilbert.  The Wizards are a better team without Gilbert.  They have talent and have actually had a very good offseason.  Problem is Gilbert.  He dominates the ball too much and doesn't have pg skills to play the position.  He isn't a good playmaker and has absolutely terrible shot selection. 

Arenas is a low percentage shooter who will basically shoot 8 or 9 for 22 almost every night.  Washington will not win with him continuing to play with him concerned about his scoring.  If he's not scoring though, he's not doing anything.  Like I said he can't pass a lick and the guy barely ever defends anyone.

They'll be better off without him.

Since: Aug 6, 2007
Posted on: November 8, 2009 9:09 pm

Arenas, Flip not on the same page

Does anyone know why the Wiz fired a decent coach in Eddie Jordan invest $100 million in a gunner with knee surgerys thrice over that has never won anything? Bring in another decent coach in Flip Saunders and have the gunner wonder why things are not the way they were when he scored 30 took a host of bad shots and just put up stats.  Why did this team not just get a true point guard to pair with Butler and Jamison. Somebody tell Arenas that it is time to shut up and win that he could average a double-double (pts-ast) in his sleep and be though of as one of the best players in the league. Get with program and stop pissing your talent away.

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