Ok, so today's practice had a lot of "meat" to it so it will broken up into parts. The first part, which I know you are all slavering for will address Gilbert Arenas, and the other part will JaVale McGee, Nick Young and some of the notes that I took during a very long practice session at the Verizon Center.
So ... Gilbert Arenas.
The long and the short of it is that Gilbert Arenas was not injured and lied to Flip Saunders about his knee in order to get Nick Young some playing time last night. I can confirm that Arenas is definitely not injured, as he was practicing at full speed today and was tasked with guarding Nick Young and John Wall. I also saw the entire team run wind sprints, and Arenas was one of the fastest guys down the floor each time. So I think we can put to rest any scuttlebutt about Arenas being actually injured.
Arenas was the first to come out after practice ended, which was a bit of a surprise as we didn't think we would be talking to him today. I have already posted the transcript of his media session, but also need to note that Arenas was very forthcoming, if a bit exasperated in his time in front of the media. There was no sullen Arenas, no playful Arenas, it was just a person who seemed a bit perplexed as how to handle the situation. Before we all go and draw and quarter Arenas, it should be noted that this is obviously a guy who chooses his words carefully, but gets caught up in what he is saying, which is what leads to trouble.
Having covered Arenas, the other two parties that are of the most concern in this affair are Nick Young and Flip Saunders. For his part, Nick Young stated that he didn't know anything about Arenas' plans to feign injury, but that he was happy for the chance to play. When pressed about Gilbert's actions, Young's first words were "That's Gil being Gil," and addressed how Arenas was a good teammate. When asked about whether he would pay a possible fine for Arenas, Young jokingly said: "Naw, he makes a lot more money than I do."
(Note: Young was kidding about paying Arenas' fine, just so we're clear. Arenas is paying his own fine).
Flip Saunders also had to address Arenas' phantom injury, and was plainspoken about the steps the organization will take towards Arenas. Arenas was addressed by Saunders and management both privately and in front of the team about the consequences of his actions. Further, Arenas is to be fined for his actions but not suspended. Furthermore, Saunders wants to put the situation behind the team and move on but noted that it is a players responsibility to be honest about their health:
I was probably the most surprised by the text last night...when I talked to Gil at the shoot around he indicated that he knee was a little bit sore and stiff and that he didn't think he was going to play...and I said fine. So I moved on. My conversation both with him and in front of the team was if you guys indicate to me that you're in a situation you can't play I can't judge if you're hurt or not. Only you can tell us that. And if you say that to me, that's what I go by.
On their personal relationship:
I told him I'm more disappointed personally because I believed in you. And there's a trust factor. I told him that you have to be honest with me about all things. It's just like dealing with your kids. Your kids make mistakes, and you deal with but it doesn't mean you love them any less. You deal with the mistake and you move on.
On playing time and Nick Young:
He has always been very close to Nick, I think he is a situation where he wants to see Nick do well at times. But as I told him and as I told the team, I dictate who plays. No player dictates who players. Even if Gilbert doesn't play it doesn't mean Nick is going to play because prior to the game we were going to start Al Thornton. So if Al would have been healthy, no matter what, one of those three guards would have been sitting.
On a personal note, I think we are all making a bit more hay over this than the situation really warrants. Flip Saunders used the situation to let the team know where the authority really lies, and Arenas is being punished appropriately for what can be judged as a harmless admission. The mistake that Arenas made besides being honest was the implication that his actions would effect the lineup the team rolled out last night.