Entering this off-season Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks don't have a lot of money to work with. That means they have to get creative to add talent to their roster. Could that creativity lead them to giving Gilbert Arenas a chance to resurrect his career?
At one time Gilbert Arenas was one of the best basketball players on the planet. Agent Zero, as he was known then, was the leader of the Washington Wizards and one of the best all-around scorers in the NBA. However, his basketball swagger and career took a nose dive following a gun charge.
Arenas was drafted 30th overall (2nd round) by the Golden State Warriors in the 2001 NBA Draft. He played for the Warriors from 2001-03 and then for the Wizards from 2003-10. During his time with Washington he was a three-time All-Star, an All-NBA Third Team player in 2005 and 2006 and an All-NBA Second Team player in 2007.
After injuries and his court case caught up with him, Arenas was sent to the Orlando Magic. He played for Orlando from from 2010-11 in a lesser role and never really fit in. He then played for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012 as a role player but that only lasted for 17 games. He then went to China for a more lucrative deal than he could find in the NBA and played from 2012-13 for the Shanghai Sharks.
Arenas has been talking about an NBA comeback for a while now but wanted time to do some off-court things. However, he's now ready to get back on the court and show he has something left in the tank.
Do you think there is any NBA team in particular right now that could really use you and what you would bring?
“I know the Knicks—I’ve watched them. They need a lot of help; they need scoring. ‘Melo [Carmelo Anthony] needs an outlet. Someone who can just put the ball in the basket and take the pressure off him.
“I [also] called Jason Kidd before the season and said ‘Listen, I feel that I can be better than some of the players you’re going to have.’ But they were already stacked to the brim. I thought I would’ve been great coming off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets.
“With Derrick Rose being down, Chicago could use some more scoring. They’re struggling a little bit.
“I guess the Lakers, with Steve Nash out. I think I could’ve made that squad, because that’s who I was working out with before training camp started. I was playing pretty well there. But they had 15 players, so…”
In April, Arenas told Chris Lingebach of CBS DC that he's absolutely planning a comeback.
Oh, and Arenas said he’s training to make a comeback in the NBA.
“I’m in the middle of training now,” Arenas said. “I said I’m gonna give it one more chance. I told Nick [Young] I’m gonna actually put some heart into it. You know, I lost it there for awhile.”
Arenas may get the chance to re-unite with Young as a Laker. The Lakers have had Arenas in for a workout. Then again, it's considered a foregone conclusion that Young will opt-out of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and test free agency.
Like the Lakers, the New York Knicks will likely look for players willing to take the league minimum this summer. Arenas might fit the bill. He might also be a guy who fits well into the triangle offense.
Arenas seems to be taking this comeback attempt seriously. Now, no one should expect Arenas to return to his Agent Zero form. At that time in his career, Arenas was a superstar in the making.
However, there's little doubt that he has plenty of basketball skill. If he can prove himself to be in NBA shape and focused on his career he could be a nice addition for the veteran's minimum as a member at the end of the bench.
Maybe he could offer the Knicks another scorer coming off the bench. A training camp invite wouldn't hurt the Knicks. If he can prove worthy of a contract it will only cost the Knicks the minimum. If he doesn't, they can cut him. Is Arenas worth Jackson taking a chance on him?