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Preseason talk rocks

I can't believe I missed this, but ESPN's Chris Broussard sat down with Gilbert Arenas Monday to discuss the upcoming season.  The good news is that, at least in this conversation, Gilbert seemingly says all the right things.

Broussard tried to back him into a corner and force him to admit that he's in it for himself, but Gil navigated away from that direction.

I knew I would have my answer as soon as the words "next level'' came out of my mouth. Would he look at me like I'm crazy, like "Next level? Dude, I'm as big as it gets!'' Or would he understand where I'm coming from, that he hasn't reached the top of the individual mountain just yet.

I'm happy to say that Gil has the mindset of a winner, not a stat-hound.

"We've got to play more consistent basketball and win games," Arenas said quickly, when asked what's the next step in his evolution as a player. "The difference between me and those guys [Kobe, LeBron, Wade, etc.] is that they're winning. Their teams are winning. If we won 50, 56 games, there would be no question whether I'm that good or not, but since we're only winning 40-something games ...

"We're getting to the playoffs. And that's the reason you guys are hearing about me as much as you are. We're getting to the playoffs, but you've got to get to that other step."

He also backed off his criticisms of Brendan Haywood, although not directly, when Broussard suggested that the Wizards were a big man away from contending.

I tell him I think they need a pseudo-dominant big man to do that. Arenas, who said he's fully recovered from the surgically-repaired left knee injury that kept hom out of last season's playoffs, disagrees.

"We rely so much on the perimeter that our big guys don't need to do that,'' he says. "If one gives us 10 [points] and 10 [rebounds], he's 'The Man!' If one gives us 5 and 5, 'Hey, that's what he does.' The guards are going to make it up. We're not worried because when we were playing our best basketball, we were the number 1 team in the East. We just got hurt; we got hit with the injury bug."

Check the whole thing's a nice read.