Do you remember the Underpants Gnomes from South Park? They’re memorable because the had a three-phase business plan that they were convinced would make them lots of cash. Here’s pretty much how it broke down:
1. Collect underpants
I bring this up because it reminds me of the situation the Washington Wizards currently find themselves in. I’m not making any bold statements by saying their current roster revolves around three players — Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. And this hasn’t been a bad business plan, seeing as this team has made the NBA playoffs in each of the last four seasons, something previous incarnations of the Bullets/Wiz Kids couldn’t always say. But this offseason, general manager Ernie Grunfeld has to make a decision. Should he re-sign Arenas and Jamison, both of which are free agents, or should he take the team in a different direction. Compounding matters, Agent Zero has no agent, and has said that if the Wiz would like to keep him in town, they must first bring back Jamison.
So essentially, Ernie’s looking at this business plan:
1. Re-sign Antawn Jamison.
3. Re-sign Gilbert Arenas.
We put the question mark there because nothing is certain with Gilbert. He could wake up tomorrow, decide to flip another coin and take a mid-level exemption to play in Toronto. Seriously, nothing should surprise folks about this guy anymore. And more importantly, what is Big Ern trying to accomplish with this team? If he wants an entertaining team that can make the playoffs, but get bounced in the first round annually, then it makes sense to bring both Arenas and Jamison back. If he plans on actually trying to win a championship … well … this ain’t the team to bet on.
Scanning the pages of the Worldwide Leader in Sports, they’re reporting that the Wiz have basically wrapped up Jamison to a new four-year, $50 million deal. I have no problem with that. On a team of hotdogs and showboats, he’s the voice of reason. He’s the guy who would rather his team do less talking and more winning. A knucklehead like Andray Blatche needs a role model like Jamison in his ear (as opposed to a hooker in his ear). I’m just not sure Arenas is the answer. Call me crazy, but when an entire team plays one way, and the superstar plays another … well, that’s not a good thing. I’d work the phone and pull off a sign and trade with the Clippers for Elton Brand. Both players are in the same salary ballpark and both are coming off of injuries. The difference, Brand gets guaranteed points in the paint – something this team of jump shooters sorely needs.
Arenas is talented, charming and fun to watch, but he’s also a coach’s nightmare. The Clippers aren’t going to win any championships, so he’d be perfect back in California, where he could battle Kobe Bryant and the Lakers for most entertaining act in town. Meanwhile, the Wizards could use Brand and the Wizards players who actually buy into a team concept to try and advance to the second round of the playoffs. It’s so crazy, it just may work.