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As big a sucker as I am for an underdog story, I’m an even bigger sucker for a redemption story. Those are two key reasons why I’m a Grizzlies fan — as a city and as a franchise, Memphis is the tough little city that could. It’s part of the reason why Zach Randolph is so beloved in this town. The talent was always there, but along the way, he made a couple of mistakes, took a couple of dings, got a bad name — but underneath it all, for those who were really paying attention, there was a quality guy. The outsiders thought that just because you got into trouble, that you ARE trouble. And of course, that’s just not true.

Well, as we catch our breath and gear up for what will hopefully be a long run that ends with the Grizzlies in the NBA Finals (yeah, I said it! That IS what you want, right?), teams are looking to add players, either by trade or the free agent that may be floating out there — good player who can maybe help put a team over the hump. For the Memphis Grizzlies, I’d like to nominate . . .

Gilbert Arenas. Especially after reading this extended interview with him from Sports Illustrated. He seems to have his head on straight again & despite his injury issues, he’s still only 30 years old. He’s a seasoned playoff veteran. So here’s what I would do and why:

Waive Sam Young. Kinda sucks, because he’s a good role player. But he’s lost his place this season and I don’t think he’s getting it back. Thank you for your contributions.

Sign Arenas. If not for the remainder of the season, then for at least a 10-day deal. The job: Back up Mike Conley at point guard. Either way, we get to see what he’s got left in the tank.

Why Arenas? Why now? Here’s the breakdown:

The Financial Reasons: Gil was released from the Orlando Magic via the Amnesty clause. He’ll still get paid his ridiculous salary, but not by his next team. Gil says: “If I’m willing to go back into the NBA, then you know that it’s just strictly basketball. And you know I’m giving you a product because I’m not on the outside looking in, in the sense that I’m just trying to come back because I need a paycheck. I still have my contract. So if I’m coming back, then that means I have something to offer basketball-wise.” Translation: Gil won’t need a big contract to sign.

The Basketball Reasons: I’ll be blunt: Gilbert Arenas is good at all the areas that our bench needs help:

  • A reliable, steady veteran as a backup PG? Check.
  • Deadly from 3? Check.
  • Reliable scoring on the second unit? He’s the proverbial Hibachi, prone to heat up at a moment’s notice.

And none of that counts the 25 games of playoff experience. I found myself intrigued by this little tidbit of veteran savvy he shared with Jeremy Lin:

“When you watch tape, never watch your guy — the guy you’re sticking with. The guy that’s sticking you is basically nonexistent. You look at the defenders behind him. How good are they? How good they are lets you know the kind of night you’re going to have. Now, if you’ve got somebody like [Anderson] Varejao, who’s going to block shots and take charges and all that, you need to know you just can’t drive the lane. You might have to pull up, stay on the side and use the jumper. Or if you have a guy who likes to leave his feet a lot, you’ll have a great night at the free-throw line. Look at those guys. Don’t look at your guy, because in the NBA you can beat your guy any time you want because you can’t touch nobody in the NBA anymore.”

I don’t know if Mike Conley, Josh Selby or Jeremy Pargo know that yet. But I sure would like to have a reserve point guard who sees the game at that level. Need more basketball reasons? Gil has relatively fresh legs. Or if you must be terrorized into thinking signing Arenas would be a masterstroke, simply imagine Mike Conley going down for 3-4 weeks, and asking Selby/Pargo to fill in.

If Arenas was simply serviceable as a PG & average from beyond the arc, he’d be VERY valuable. If he’s good at both . . . look out Western Conference.

The Chemistry Reasons: As Gil points out, he’s never had the reputation for being a “locker room cancer” before that unfortunate gun incident in DC. He would bring a different kind of wacky to the team that I think would probably mesh with Tony Allen’s manic wackiness. The team culture of hard work, accountability & defense is well established and has been since Lionel Hollins told Allen Iverson who the boss was. In fact, hardened by continuity & playoff success, Gil would have to adapt to the team, not the other way around. And on a team that plays best with a chip on its shoulder, what other player has more to prove? I think all that adds up to Gil fitting in quite well — in play, attitude & work ethic.

The Fan Reasons: If Gilbert were to produce at any kind of sustained level, and contribute to team wins — both things VERY doable — I think he’d quickly reach cult status in Memphis. I think he’d dig in and start helping with charity work again. I think he’d give the Grizzlies an additional chord to the underdog/redemption story that resonates so well in Memphis.

Sure . . . go ahead and call me nutty. But this team took a flyer on a player with a checkered past before . . . And he led us to the edge of the Western Conference Finals last season. With Zach Randolph returning soon and a healthy & motivated Gilbert Arenas on board, Memphis could manufacture and even more magical run this spring.

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44 Responses to From Zero To Hero: Why The Grizz Should Sign Gilbert Arenas

  1. brrrNo Gravatar says:

    i like it…..

  2. EvanNo Gravatar says:

    I’d take Arenas for Sam Young all day. Throw in Pargo, too.

    Let Arenas mentor Selby.

  3. JmanonbassNo Gravatar says:

    Hell yes, all damn day.

  4. raggenNo Gravatar says:

    Good article. Honestly, with all this, I’m somewhat surprised Arenas hasn’t been signed yet.

  5. Chris FaulknerNo Gravatar says:

    Sold.

  6. Joel B.No Gravatar says:

    so what happens if we sign GA for the rest of the season? what do we have to pay him?, other then that question i like the idea, Z-BO and Mo speights had “bad” reps when we got them, Z-BO is one of the cities biggest hero’s now, and MO is starting to realise that the fans actually like him here, its good to see him smiling every once in a while, instead of beating him self up every time he misses a shot. welcome to Memphis Mo, we like players who play hard, we do not care if you miss a shot as long as you work hard. anyway getting GA is a great idea, he would fit in well, as long as we can get him to buy into our defensive system, and get rid of any ego he has, to play team ball. if that happened, i could see him being a solid piece for the Grizz in a deep playoff run

    • Lee Eric SmithNo Gravatar says:

      If we wanted Arenas, we’d bid on his salary. The team with the winning bid pays that amount, while the previous team (Magic) pay the rest of his salary.

      Judging by the fact that no one had bid already, Grizz could probably have the former All-Star for less than $1 million.

      A veteran PG with deep playoff experience? Certified from long range & hungry to prove himself again? For most likely next to nothing cap-wise?

      I’m REALLY trying to see the downside here….

  7. ColeNo Gravatar says:

    Sign him! sign him! sign him!

    I see no downside. Now here is the big question.

    What are the odds of this happening?

  8. GrizzdocNo Gravatar says:

    Well, that is the question. The nightmare scenario that you pointed out, ie what happens if Conley gets injured, highlights the glaring need for a serviceable backup. Forget about injury, what if Conley picks up quick fouls early in the game? With the number of steals that he has, it is not unfathomable that those hands could land him in foul trouble from time to time. Given that situation, we would be a mess on the floor.

    So the need for a backup point guard is clearly there. One with experience and who can hit 3′s, even better. I don’t think you’ll find anyone opposed to this.

    But the question is…can this really happen? Are you aware of any talk of this at the GM/administrative level within the Grizz organization??? This is where we need to be aggressive and quick.

    Let’s hope that this materializes…

  9. GrizzliesDieHardNo Gravatar says:

    Go get Agent Zero. I’m down!!!

  10. choppasizzNo Gravatar says:

    Plan A – Calderon
    Plan B – Gilbert

  11. TonyNo Gravatar says:

    Can’t believe I’m the only one here who DOESN’T like this idea … We’re deep at SG. Gilbert at this point is not better offensively than Juice, and obviously few and far between are better than TA. This means we would never run a Conley-Gilbert backcourt, and Gil would only come in to give Conley a breather.

    Mike Conley is a 36 mpg player. I get that Gilbert is humbled and all that jazz, but are we really going to tempt fate with THAT distraction for a guy who will play 12 minutes a game? To me, it’s just not worth it.

    • Lee Eric SmithNo Gravatar says:

      Tony:

      Sure, Gil could do spot minutes at shooting guard, but the primary reason to sign him would be to do exactly what you said: To relieve Conley.

      And don’t get it twisted: Conley plays 36 mpg because HE HAS TO. The falloff when Selby/Pargo go into the game is too steep. I’m certain Hollins and Conley himself would like to move him back down to say 30-33 mpg.

      If Gil could bring a reliable 12 ppg/4 apg in 12-15 minutes a night — doable given his age and knees — what’s wrong with that?

  12. WellsNo Gravatar says:

    Arenas cleared waivers with no one bidding on him. That was part of the Amnesty Clause procedure. He is a free agent, eligible to be signed by anyone to any contract that is mutually agreeable. The important part of that first sentence is “no one bid one him” which says the Grizzlies already had an opportunity to sign him and decided against it. I have heard no reason for the Grizzlies to change their assessment of Arenas.

    • Lee Eric SmithNo Gravatar says:

      Well, we also thought Jeremy Pargo would be an upgrade from Greivis Vasquez. We see how that worked out…

      Team needs change over the course of a season. My gut says Gil could really help this squad. Gut also says that if another team’s PG goes down, he will be a hot commodity whose price will go up. I’d like to see us beat all that instead of scrambling if Conley goes down.

  13. Larry HarrisNo Gravatar says:

    There are good reasons no NBA team rushed to sign G. Arenas. He had other problems long before the gun incident.

  14. mikeNo Gravatar says:

    SIGN HIM!!!! grizzlies are in desperate need of bench scoring. we cant have gasol and gay scoring 20 each every game. nobody at the moment wants gil so we could get him real cheap and i heard he lost a lot of weight. he could have regained a bit of explosiveness because hes not as bulky and you know he can hit a jumpshot. he didnt play in orlando but before he was traded, he was playin pretty well with the injury

  15. EvanNo Gravatar says:

    Well, would ya know that Bleacher Report sends me a notification reading (verbatim): “Source: Grizzlies to Meet with Free Agent Gilbert Arenas”
    :o !!!!!

  16. [...] to the Grizzlies on Chris Vernon’s radio show. It was 3 Shades Of Blue or more accurately a blog by Lee Eric Smith that convinced Wallace to take another look and the rest is [...]

  17. Craig TNo Gravatar says:

    Kudos to you Lee.

    I am a big Arenas fan (hoops not guns) and you nailed every aspect of Gil. Good analysis and a good signing for the Grizz. Relatively low downside – and if Gil is “right” both personally and professionally-you have added value.

  18. gertieNo Gravatar says:

    I was waiting patiently the whole way through waiting for you to answer THE question.
    And Bravo sir. That was a masterpiece of justification:

    “He would bring a different kind of wacky to the team.”

    PS: Rufus thinks 3SOB just wants a ‘livelier’ and ‘wackier’ team to cover.

  19. JayNo Gravatar says:

    congrats!!! i’m not a Grizzlies fan but i loved it when i heard a blogger/fan influenced this acquisition. well done good sir

  20. [...] blog post in question is believed to be this one that appeared on the site “3 Shades of Blue.” If things work out for Gil in Memphis, he [...]

  21. JamesNo Gravatar says:

    Congrats! Read that your blog influenced the teams decision. Way to atriculate your points and after reading the above you made it a no brainer for the Grizzlies. I don’t follow Grizzlies but am a fan of Arenas (AZ alumni, I do root for Pastner’s Memphis Tigers).

  22. Mario from "tha D"No Gravatar says:

    Gil is washed up and not a PG…..the last thing you need is someone else taking up mins in the backcourt and SHOTS period. Let OJ play more PG and this will do 2 things: give him more time on the court as he is a RHYTHM player and give the Grizz size at the PG spot. More court time for OJ will result in more success for the team.

    ps-Rudy Gay will not conform to the team style of play that proved to work last yr in the playoffs and the Grizz need to play inside out not with Rudy only deciding to pass if he gets in trouble.

  23. _CDRC_No Gravatar says:

    Well written. I think Arenas owes you a thank you.

  24. BrandofunkNo Gravatar says:

    Wow. Very insightful. Signed.

  25. Ji HeNo Gravatar says:

    Awesome article and even more awesome that you influenced your teams destiny.

  26. ToyaNo Gravatar says:

    Gilbert has a lot of potential to be great again. Gilbert just need to focus on basketball and leave everything else off the court. Memphis signing Gil may be a good move. I would love to see him make a come back. I miss the Gil that was set out to prove everyone who ever said that he wasn’t going to make it wrong. If Gil feeds off that fire in Memphis, I can see Memphis at least making it to the play off.

  27. AmroNo Gravatar says:

    Well done, Sir.

  28. ChokoNo Gravatar says:

    Can you do an I article on “Why Iverson have to return on a NBA Team” ??? ^_^

  29. 30HomeGamesNo Gravatar says:

    Great Job Lee. You really appealed to the Grizzlies narrative and the reason why many NBA fans like myself root for this gritty team. This team embodies faith and underdog talent, may they cause a storm and shock the world again these playoffs.

  30. George D.No Gravatar says:

    Lee,

    Did you hear Chris Wallace giving you and your blog piece props last week on the Chris Vernon show?

    Well done …

    GDD

  31. [...] Never more heated than with Zach Harper of Hoop Speak and ESPN’s DDL. But in support of my theory I’ll defer to Gilbert Arenas, a former scoring savant who has first-hand experience in torching the league’s best defensive [...]

  32. [...] just over a week ago, I made a case for why the Grizzlies should sign free agent PG Gilbert Arenas. And as it turns out, Arenas is in town to work out for the team, maybe signing for the postseason [...]

  33. [...] for those of you wondering: OF COURSE, I asked him about the blog that helped bring him to Memphis. He said, “I heard about that, but I don’t read the blogs much. I’ll have to [...]

  34. vahythelordNo Gravatar says:

    just keep arenas.. give him 20 mins,,, our 3 and vision improves

  35. [...] Around this time, the Grizzlies made another roster move when they signed Gilbert Arenas, a player the Grizzlies became interested in after reading one of our blogs written by Lee Eric Smith. [...]

  36. [...] Arenas (The Couch) Agent Zero was just waiting on the phone to ring when it finally did. For some inconceivable reason, Chris Wallace got the notion to give the free agent gunner another shot. And while he had some obvious rust, Arenas was able to [...]

  37. [...] For fairly obvious reasons, I was tempted to make this post “Why I Miss . . . Gilbert Arenas.&… And as I look back on that earlier blog post that planted the seed for Arenas coming to Beale Street, I realize that I could copy and paste that piece right here and it would still be true: Arenas (in theory) = veteran backup PG + 3 point threat + scoring punch. Those are all things the Grizz could still use, and I’m a bit disappointed that Agent X won’t be launching for the Bears this season. Of course, the Grizz have taken measures to address all three of those concerns this offseason so . . . [...]

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