The Washington Bullet
I have Gilbert Arenas on two of my bigger fantasy basketball teams. I am NOT feeling good right now, as I just don't see any way that Arenas escapes this gun investigation without a massive suspension from the NBA. Jemele Hill wrote a long editorial on Monday suggesting Arenas be suspended for the season, and Charlie Zegers blogged on Tuesday about prepping for the distinct possibility that Arenas could at any point be done. As a father who wants to see a safer world with more consideration and less stupidity about weapons, I can understand and even appreciate the likelihood of a harsh punishment from the league. But as an Arenas owner, all I feel is a sense of impending doom that at any moment one of my best players will be taken from me.
The irony is that Arenas has been on my "to trade" list for quite awhile, well before any whiff of gun charges scented the air. From the time I rolled the dice to draft Arenas I was hoping for him to get off to a fast start so that I could trade him before he became unstable, but my concerns were more about his medical history than any thought something like this would happen. But I was busy, and I was paying attention to my football teams, and I kept putting off making Arenas offers for just another day until WHAM, the stories of guns in the locker and gambling debts gone wrong hit me in the face.
I'll continue to start the Hibachi until the news breaks that he will be sitting (which really could come any day now) with hopes that he can give me at least a few more strong games before he's lost. I'll also hope that the suspension is short, but that doesn't seem likely. As prep for the inevitable, the obvious thing to do is pick up Arenas' back-up Randy Foye, who has been a capable fantasy producer in the past and seems like a good fit in the point-guard friendly Flip Saunders offense. I wouldn't drop a starter to do it since it's definitely a speculative pick-up, but in one league I just dropped Ben Wallace for Foye and I think a player of that caliber is a reasonable drop for Foye's potential. Earl Boykins is another potential target in deeper leagues, as his minutes would pick way up without Arenas and he was a viable 15-and-4 guy as a sixth-man type back in 2007.
The other angle that Zegers pointed out in his blog was that an Arenas suspension could potentially trigger (bad choice of words?) the Wizards to sell off some of their other veteran assets like Antawn Jamison or Caron Butler. This is even more speculative than the pick-ups of Foye or Boykins, but it's plausible, and if it happened it could be a boon for young Wizards like Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee or Nick Young. I already own Blatche in a couple of leagues and will hold onto him, but in a deep league this news could prompt me to take a flyer on one of the other youngsters as well.
Bottom line: this Arenas situation is bad news for any of his fantasy owners no matter what the official outcome turns out to be, but a savvy owner can't just mope about it. We are forewarned, which means that we should fore-arm (come on, I just can't resist) ourselves and our team by preparing for the inevitable loss.
Situations to Watch and Quick Hits
Omri Casspi (44% owned): Casspi is becoming a surprise impact player as a rookie and is coming off three straight 20-plus point performances. He has two double-doubles in his last five games, has hit at least one 3-pointer in 13 straight games, and is getting a decent number of assists, steals and blocks as well.
Ty Lawson (27% owned): Lawson has produced two consecutive 23-point/nine-assist performances as the starting point guard for the Nuggets in place of the injured Chauncey Billups. Billups is day-to-day, which means that at any time Lawson's run could come to an end, but for now he could give your team a nice short-term boost
Matt Barnes (22% owned): Barnes moved back into the starting lineup for the Magic last week, and in those two games has averaged 20 points with 7.5 boards and 2.5 treys. Those numbers are likely not sustainable for the season but if he continues to start Barnes should be a viable producer.
Martell Webster (16% owned): Webster has really picked up his production in the two games that LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) and Steve Blake (pneumonia) have missed. He has always been a talented shooter, but he's inconsistent, so enjoy this run while it lasts but don't expect him to continue averaging 20.3 points (like he has in the last week) moving forward.
Rasual Butler (16% owned): Butler has been money from 3-point range for several weeks now, good for mid-teens scoring with two or three treys on a regular basis.
Luther Head (15% owned): Head has stepped up as a primary scorer for the Pacers with Danny Granger and Troy Murphy injured, and he appears to have established himself as a viable fantasy producer moving forward. He has averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 boards, 3.3 assists and 2.3 treys in his last four games.
Article first appeared 1/5/10