Gilbert Arenas' tenure with the Orlando Magic was short-lived, and with good reason. After joining the team via trade from the Washington Wizards, Arenas struggled, shooting 34.4 percent from the field and averaging just eight points per game. The Magic had no choice but to use the Collective Bargaining Agreement's amnesty clause on the former All-Star, allowing them to clear the $60-plus million owed Arenas off their salary cap, though they're still obligated to pay him.
For the first time since Orlando parted ways with him, Arenas granted an interview. Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated spent 90 minutes with Arenas and discussed a variety of topics, including Dwight Howard's future with the Magic, Arenas' brief stay with the team, and what the future might hold for him.
"To be honest, I have no idea," Arenas told Amick when asked if he thinks Howard will remain with the Magic, "because like any big decision you're going to go back and forth every day. Like I tried to tell him, it's going to be hard to just go out there and play basketball."
According to Arenas, Howard has expressed an interest in re-teaming with him in the future. "If you want me to play, I'll come with you," is what Arenas says he's told Howard.
Arenas is still tight with Howard and Jameer Nelson, the Magic's co-captains, saying he talks to both of them "every day." He worked out with them over the summer, during the NBA lockout, because he wanted to earn "their approval" so "they can speak up for you." Arenas has also maintained his relationship with Otis Smith, the Magic's President of Basketball Operations. "I run things by him," he says. "We talk because I have a basketball mind."
Arenas says he's counseled Howard, who has requested a trade from the Magic, about his future. "If you want to be somewhere else, then that's your choice, but make the choice yourself and don't let anybody else pull you for their own reasons," Arenas told Amick of his advice to Howard. "You've got to sit down and look yourself in the mirror every day [...] You've got to do it on your own, to think about it on your own."
Arenas says "I was basically mentally out of it" during the 2010/11 season, and believes it's unfair for people to judge his prospects of making an NBA comeback solely on his performance then. Initially, times were good in Orlando. "I was around some people who like me and we're on an eight-game winning streak and then all of a sudden I get my playing time cut and from there I just lost it," Arenas says. "I couldn't think anymore." He says Nelson and Jason Richardson are going through the same thing this season due to the uncertainty about Howard's future.
Nelson, a former All-Star, is shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from three-point range; both figures are career-worsts.
When asked about his weight, Arenas says he's down to 210 pounds now, and that he played at 222 pounds "in my good years." Notably, he said he arrived in Orlando at 214 pounds, but finished the season at 232: "All that good food and sitting on that bench just gets you fat."
The whole interview is worth a read, even for folks who don't particularly like Arenas. Give it a look now, or bookmark it to return to later.
What do you make of Arenas' comments about the Magic? What stands out the most?