Gilbert Arenas was on top of the world three years ago. He was considered one of the top point guards in the NBA and he was one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA when he was “in the zone”. Then, just like that, Arenas hit the toughest stretch of his career.
Arenas and then teammate Javaris Crittendon got into an incident with each other where guns were brought into the locker room. This incident led to Arenas getting a lengthy suspension and putting a black eye on his career. That incident, along with knee surgeries, caused Arenas to fall from grace and tarnish what was once a promising career. The Washington Wizards were looking to move him. They lost all faith in Arenas being a solution and had deemed him the problem.
With the huge contract Arenas was under, moving him was no easy task. But there was one team out there that was looking to cause a major shakeup and that team was the Orlando Magic. The Magic traded Rashard Lewis to Washington for the services of Arenas in hopes that he would become the guy that everyone feared. Well, the magic didn’t return as Arenas changed teams. In fact, Arenas looked increasingly like he would never get over the serious knee surgeries and that he was a shell of himself. Gone was the explosiveness. Gone was the brashness. Gone was the guy we knew as Agent Zero.
After the NBA lockout, their was a clause created called the amnesty clause. This clause meant that teams could get rid of one bad contract and not have any repercussions in releasing that player. As soon as that clause came about, the first person many teams spoke about was Gilbert Arenas. Arenas, like most thought, was released by the Magic. He was thought to be done in most fans and GM’s eyes. After all, who wanted a guy with a bad knee who seemed to have lost his explosiveness and jump shot?
It took a while, but the Memphis Grizzlies, in March 2012, took a chance on signing the fading star with limited expectations. They were hoping to get the guy we all saw in Washington and not the guy in Orlando that looked pedestrian at best. Memphis was in need of more offense and a backup to Mike Conley, Jr. So far, Arenas has been on the money. But, he’s done it in a different way than usual.
Arenas used to be able to explode past you to the rim as well as shoot the deep ball. Now, with his explosiveness gone, he now plays off the ball a little bit better and has become more of a jump shooter than playmaker. Another noticeable difference is he is now giving effort on the defensive end. Arenas always had quick hands and feet, but he never seemed to have a ton of interest in that end of the court. Flash forward to now and he is deflecting passes and using his basketball smarts to make plays on the defensive end.
Arenas seems to have turned a new page in his career. He has scored in double-figures 3 of his 8 games with the Grizzlies, but not only has he done that, he has played with an intense desire to not only make this team better, but to revive his career. You could say he has reinvented himself, knowing that this may be his last chance to make something happen in the NBA.