The Wizards have made a trade with the Magic that will send Gilbert Arenas to Orlando in exchange for small forward Rashard Lewis.
“We traded Gilbert Arenas to Orlando for Rashard Lewis,” general manager Ernie Grunfeld said. “We think that Rashard will help our front court with his experience, his versatility, his ability to stretch the defense. He is a 39 percent career three-point shooter and when you have a point guard like John (Wall) who likes to penetrate and distribute, you need people who are going to stretch the defense and be on the outside.”
It is reportedly a straight-up swap with Arenas and Lewis both having hefty contracts that their franchises would like to be done with. Arenas is owed $60 million in the end of his deal while Lewis has a few years remaining on the gargantuan $118 million deal he signed with the magic heading into the 2007-08 season.
“The opportunity presented itself this week and opportunities don’t come around that often in the NBA. We looked at it and studied it and thought it was the best interest in our team to make this move in the short term and the long term.”
When asked how this set the Wizards up salary-cap wise heading into 2012 he responded with a smile and “well.”
“It sets us up much better obviously for when Gilbert would be in his last year,” Grunfeld said. “Now, that amount comes off our books.”
Grunfeld that this is one of the final pieces in the rebuilding that the Wizards have been going through the last couple of seasons. The thing about rebuilding is that you have to strip away the existing foundation before you can build something new in its place. Grunfeld has certainly achieved the tearing down part in shipping Arenas out. Now it is time to see what he can build around Wall heading forward.
“We made the decision to rebuild, this is just the final piece of the puzzle,” Grunfeld said. “Now it is a fresh start for us and a fresh start for Gilbert in Orlando.”
The Wizards now only have three players left on the roster from this time last season in Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.
“You never know how how things are going to come down in this league,” Grunfeld said of all the moves that have been made over the last year in sending away players like Caron Butler. “We made a decision that that group had its run and it was time to go in a different direction.”
Arenas is averaging 17.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in 21 games this year averaging 34.6 minutes per game. The 21 games represent nearly half of the 47 total games that Arenas played the last three years combined battling knee and … legal issues.
“I spoke with Gilbert this afternoon, told him about it,” Grunfeld said. “He thanked us for the opportunity, thanked us for everything. We spent seven years of our lives together here and he is excited about a fresh start and a new opportunity.”
Lewis has played 25 games this year with the Magic with a 12.2/4.2/1.2 slash line while averaging 32.4 minutes per game.
What say you D.C.? Happy to see the dramatic Arenas leave town or is it sad to see one of the most popular players in franchise history unceremoniously swapped? Let us know in the comments.