According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Orlando Magic will be interested in obtaining exiled Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas--who pled guilty to felony weapons charges in Washington, D.C. yesterday--"when the time comes."
Stein's sources within the league say Magic general manager Otis Smith, a part of the Golden State Warriors' front-office staff when they selected Arenas in the 2001 NBA Draft, "continues to be one of Arenas' closest confidantes in the league."
More from Stein:
Sources thus say it’s a virtual certainty, given the depth of their friendship, that Arenas will lobby Smith to be the GM who looks past the damage this incident has done to Gil's reputation and grants his comeback chance.
But how can the Magic make a play for Arenas, whose contract runs for 4 more years and $80.2 million after this one? And how can the Magic make room for Arenas, a ball-dominating point guard, when they already have four All-Stars who need shots? Stein didn't offer specifics on either count, but he is "convinced" that Orlando will consider the idea, especially if the Magic continue to underachieve. He points to "the summer of 2010" as a potential time for Orlando's next "roster shake-up" to occur.
Via the Orlando Sentinel, here's comment from Smith on Arenas the day after NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Arenas' indefinite suspension:
"Nothing surprises me anymore, but yeah, I’m a little bit surprised because he’s smarter than that."
Smith has a long-standing policy of not signing or trading for anyone with character issues. When asked during the 2008 free-agency period about the chances of signing Jamaal Tinsley or Stephon Marbury to bolster the Magic's point guard depth, Smith shook his head and told Brian Schmitz, "You know me."
Arenas is a bit different, though. As David Steele of NBA FanHouse (not to be confused with the Magic broadcaster of the same name) has written, Arenas is more of a goofball than a thug. And Smith knows Arenas personally, whereas he didn't know Tinsley or Marbury.
I suspect we haven't heard the last of this rumor.
UPDATE: Schmitz has more on the relationship between Smith and Arenas here. He reports that Smith has spoken to Arenas twice lately and advised him to delete his Twitter account.