I'm going to take a page out of a fellow SBNationer and try to find answers to some of the key questions you're all having.
Gilbert Arenas and Eddie Jordan fight through the media. Who's out of line?
It's a lot more complex than simply blaming one person, but if I had to pick one, it would be Arenas. He was the first to make the comments, and it probably would have been much better to stay quiet and address Jordan privately. But at the same time, should we be surprised? Arenas has made his reputation by being one of the most candid interview subjects, and he doesn't really believe in censoring his words. This can be a good thing when things are going well, but it can be a bad thing when things aren't. Things aren't going well right now, so naturally, he's going to speak his mind.
So you're completely absolving Eddie Jordan?
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, what is he supposed to do? He finally made the right move and stopped playing Jarvis Hayes at power forward, and things got even worse. Even with Jamison, this team wasn't defending. Without Jamison, they simply have to defend better to make up for the loss of all his skills.
Should this be the end of Gilbertology?
Not in an of itself, but yes, Arenas needs to tone it down a little bit. I already got the sense that he was separating himself from the team a little bit, and now, it's become official. There are tons of cooky athletes who's teams are successful (see Chad Johnson), and you can't ask Arenas to stop being strange. He just needs to be smarter about it.
Is the 1-4 record really all Arenas' fault?
Absolutely not. Caron Butler needs to pick it up again in particular. Without his consistent scoring, Arenas' streakiness becomes more pronounced. The two centers, Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas, also have to get some of the blame, because neither has played well recently and they were the first to start fighting. None of the replacements for Antawn Jamison have been consistent either, so they should get some of the blame. But the difference is that none of those guys guaranteed a 50 point game and fell 41 points short.
Who will Ernie Grunfeld side with?
Knowing Ernie, he'll probably lay low and stay out of this. Both Arenas and Jordan are signed long-term, and for better or for worse, they're going to still be here. He'll let the two sort it out themselves.
Speaking of Ernie, does this recent cold stretch mean he should make a move?
It would be nice, but don't expect anything big. It's become clear that the Wizards can't hide the holes they've always had. Without Jamison, they don't have a third guy who can put up points, and they don't really have a pure point guard who can take the ball out of Arenas' hands.
But it's not as easy in practice to make a move. The Wizards have no desirable trade assets to deal. Nobody's going to take Etan Thomas and his huge contract, and I doubt the Wizards will get anything for Jarvis Hayes and his suckiness.
Ernie should be working the phones, but we can't be too upset if nothing happens. If anything, we should be overjoyed if Ernie does manage to move an undesirable piece.
So if I thought this team should trade Jamison, am I an idiot?
Yeah. Hate to be blunt, but look at how bad they've been without him.
Can guarantee-gate actually be a good thing?
Oh yeah, certainly. Like it or not, the Wizards haven't faced much real adversity this year. They've been lucky to win a lot of close game, and even when they were winning, they were playing more like a .500 team than an Eastern Conference contender. Gilbert Arenas is the type of player who feeds off the doubters, and you know those doubters are coming back now. And with his handpicked coach (remember, Arenas basically said that he would only stay if Jordan was re-signed this offseason) angry at him, I find it hard to believe that Arenas won't see the light. He's cooky, but he's not stupid.
Can this team still win the East?
I don't know if they could have won the East even playing the way they were in December, but I think they can still be very much of a contender. This couldn't have come at a better time, because they now have the all-star break to sort things out. In a couple weeks, Jamison will be back, and the Wizards will get all that production back in their lineup. Darius Songaila is also just getting helthy, which should strengthen the bench. They're still very much in the picture.
Alright, be honest. Take those homer goggles off. Do you really think this team can pull together?
I'm definitely worried that this won't end well. Miami is suddenly healthy and surging, and none of the teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference are easy to play. It wouldn't shock me to see the team fall apart and the finger pointing continue. The Wizards could easily fall to the bottom of the playoff picture, no doubt.
But at the same time, let's look big picture. The Wizards are still seven games over .500 and up in the Southeast by a pretty solid margin. They're well ahead of last year's pace, and if it weren't for an uncharacteristically bad November, the Wizards would be in even better position. They're the only Eastern Conference contender playing without a key piece, and Jamison will be back by March. This could go either way, but there's no reason to abandon hope.