A new twist

Y'know, Ivan, April Fools jokes are much funnier when they aren't true.

What the hell changed since last Sunday, Gil?  Please don't make me assume it all had to do with the fact that the Detroit game was on ESPN.  Because I'm getting dangerously close to making that assumption, which would mean I'd become everything I hate in a blogger/citizen journalist/analyst whatnot.  

I'll stop now.  It seems there are a lot of holes left to fill in this story, and it seems like the reason those holes weren't filled wasn't negligence, but rather a lack of time.  Once the information becomes more clear, I'll pipe up again.

For now, though, I'm not a happy camper.

Update [2008-4-2 14:8:34 by Pradamaster]: Let's see if we can make sense of this.

Ivan has an update from shootaround, and maintains that Gilbert is not going to play. I'm still not sure exactly who told him that, but he has an unnamed team source quoted in some fashion.

According to a source I spoke with, Arenas is going back and forth with himself about the entire thing (no shocking news there) and because only eight games remain, he is debating whether to return at all. My gut still tells me that he will - it's going to be hard to sit out of the nationally televised game against the Celtics at the VC next Wednesday - but reading Gilbert on a given day is like trying to read the wind.
Meanwhile, as cuppettcj mentioned, the Times' Mike Jones is either totally out of the loop or very plugged in.
The Wizards did not say yesterday whether Arenas would be evaluated before tonight's game. But Arenas said this weekend that he's ready to play as soon as he's cleared. He also, however, tempered expectations about his performance when he does return, citing his lack of conditioning.

"If they do clear me, I don't know what they expect from me," Arenas said. "I'm not really in basketball shape, don't really have any rhythm to the game. So we'll see what the decision is when we get back to D.C."

Wait, what? Jones doesn't even say that Gilbert has been cleared to play. Perhaps he was scooped, or perhaps Ivan is dealing in misinformation. I'm leaning with the former.

For the record, the Wizards.com blog says Arenas is not playing tonight, though I wouldn't trust an official team media outlet with my life. Either way, it's looking like he's not going to play tonight, which means we get to opine a little bit more.

One of my favorite sports books is Sam Smith's The Jordan Rules, which details the Chicago Bulls' run to their first NBA title in 1990/91. One of the subplots is GM Jerry Krause's pursuit of Toni Kukoc. Krause's zeal was not shared by the rest of the organization. In one memorable passage, Phil Jackson, persuaded by Krause to call Kukoc, got fed up with Kukoc's mixed messages and told Kukoc the following: "Listen kid. Either shit or get off the pot."

That line describes my feelings toward Arenas right now. I'm really not so concerned about whether he comes back or not, because I don't see him making a major difference this late in the season. My guess is that he increases our chances of advancing in the playoffs from about 20 percent to 25 percent (and that's being really generous). I would ideally love for him to come back and play, but if he doesn't, I don't think it'll make a big difference this year, provided everyone else is healthy.

Obviously, not having Arenas in the lineup changes how the front office approaches his contract in the offseason, but at this point, I'm inclined to cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now, the rest of the players, who have been doing an unbelievable job at managing the distraction, are involved in a tight playoff race, and need to focus to get the best playoff seed possible. If Gilbert is a part of that, great, but they need to know what his final decision is. Play or no play, it's time for Gilbert to stop hedging with his intentions.

Listen Gilbert. Either shit, or get off the pot.

Other takes:

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