I'm back home from media day and there's a ton of stuff I have to sift through and then distill for you all. For a quick rundown of what everyone said, I suggest you read Michael Lee's report. I'll do my best to fill in where I can with everyone else when I get a chance.
But you're probably first and foremost concerned about what Gilbert Arenas had to say. Despite claiming he was only talking in order to avoid the media day fine he picked up last year for skipping, he went on for at least 30 minutes on a variety of important topics. Make the jump for more.
Gilbert getting serious
According to Gilbert, the prankster, Hibachi days may be over. No more blogging, no more Twitter, no more pranks in the locker room. Initially, however, he didn't actually give the type of ringing declaration that you may have expected.
"When I had fun, I got criticized, so let's see what happens when I'm serious," he said.
Later on, however, he made the point a lot more clearly, saying "I don't want to entertain anymore, I just want to go out and play." He also said he doesn't expect to be goofing off in the locker room before games.
"Yeah, probably [the locker room tenor will change], because I'm not going to be goofing around. I don't know how everybody's going to react. Everyone's used to me lighting up the mood before games or after practice, so that just might affect that aspect."
Speaking of the locker room, Gil confirmed the suspicion that the locker room last year dissolved into two clicks -- the old guys and the young guns. He said that was actually one of the biggest problems with the team last year, but he doesn't anticipate it being a problem this time around.
"I think [bringing people together] was a problem last year, because me and Brendan [Haywood] are the blenders. We blend the old guys and the young guys together," he said. "But now, everyone's old. We're just a team. We don't have any rookies this year, so everyone's been there before."
So ... Gilbert's cool with being a leader, right? Right?
Gil had some moments where he was warm and engaging, but he also had some moments where he was a bit defensive. His answers about whether he saw himself as a leader were among his most defensive.
"What is a leader? Is a leader someone who comes into the gym at 7 o'clock when practice is at 11. Or when the game's at seven, you're here at 3:30? [Is a leader] someone who plays hard? Is that a leader?" Or is a leader something where you say 'Coach, I'm a leader,' and in the papers, he says I'm a leader. Is that a leader? I have no idea," he said.
He then went on to explain why he didn't really take the "leadership role," so to speak, in the past.
"In my first year here, Eddie [Jordan] appointed [Jerry] Stackhouse and Larry [Hughes] to be the leaders. He didn't want me to be a leader. He says I was too young," he said. "So from that moment, I was never a leader. In my mind, I was always too young. So every time he tried to appoint me as a leader, I didn't want to be it. This year, Flip said I was to be his leader, so I said okay."
Arenas also addressed his comments to Mike Jones in this Washington Times article, although he didn't exactly seem thrilled by having to do that ... if that makes any sense.
"I thought it was a good story overall. If you want to peel a couple comments out of the story, that's what you guys do. If it was written, it was written. I can't take anything out of it."
When asked whether he stood by his comments, Arenas responded, "I stand by the article."
Gil on his rehab
Gil had a lot of very interesting things to say about his rehab and his recovery from being out for two years. Perhaps the most striking thing Arenas said was that he actually considered retirement for a few hours after hearing some bad news about his knee in Miami in January (yes, I mean January 2009).
"I got an X-ray on my left knee again right before we went to Miami and they said I had swelling in my knee in the joint and that I might need surgery again. That's when I blew up," he said.
"For about three hours, I said I'd rather retire than go through another surgery again. At least I can save the team some money," he added.
Gil said he did recover from that incident and didn't need any more surgery, so no worries, folks. He also admitted he hadn't shared that story with anyone until today.
As far as his time with Tim Grover, Arenas said the biggest difference between Grover and the previous routine he was given was how much he was asked to lift weights. The Wizards did not want him lifting weights initially, but Arenas says Grover's routine had him lifting weights from the start.
"That was my biggest concern the past two years - I didn't get lift weights in my legs. I was thinking, when I built my legs, I used weights."
However, Arenas did admit that one of the main reasons he was able to rehab more effectively with Grover was because of all the resources Grover has that NBA teams don't.
"What NBA staffs don't have, he has. He has a person who does acupuncture. He has a chiropractor, he has PT peope. He has it all in one facility, so you get all the treatment you need right there. The stuff I needed, we ddin't have here."
What has he learned from the poor rehab experiences of the past?
"Now, I'm smarter, and I know I need to maintain the strength I put on in summer with putting in more work in the season. I can't just work all summer and then when the season comes don't do more lifting."
No more threes?
Arenas claimed the three-point jacking was going to stop this year, suggesting that he's going to shoot less than 100 threes, which would amount to just over one a game if he plays a full 82-game season. As a point of comparison, in Arenas' last healthy year in 2006/07, he led the league with 582 three-point attempts in 74 games.
"Before, in Eddie's offense, because it was made for the 3s and the 4s, I took a lot of wild shots, fastbreak threes. But since I have the ball more, I probably don't need to do that," he said. "I plan on taking less than 100 threes. I'm not going to be a three-point shooter this year. I worked most of the year on mid-range jumpers."
Whatever you say dude.
"I'm not going to be sitting there launching threes up. I'm going to be shooting for percentage."
Odds and ends
- Gil on Flip Saunders: "Besides my high school coach and Lute Olson, [Flip's] the only one I actually had conversations with in a one-on-one way. It surprised me."
- Gil on Tim Grover's involvement during training camp: "He's going to be there at training camp teaching our strength and conditioning coach what to do to keep my legs strong."
- Gil on the team's defensive struggles the past couple years: "Defense comes with defensive concepts. If you have a defensive concept, you're going to play defense. If you don't have a defensive concept, if you have an offensive concept, you're going to play offense. You gotta ask the coach if he has a defensive concept." Asked to elaborate, Gil smiled and said: "Before, we did the Princeton. That's offense."
- Gil clearing the air on the Milwaukee game in 2008, when he reportedly didn't tell Eddie Jordan he was going to be coming back from injury: "That was actually Eddie Jordan's call. He told me to come out at the six-minute timeout so if the crowd is not really into the game and if the team isn't playing well, if you come out it'll bring the energy back in."
- Gil on what the team needs to do to improve: "We don't know what we're improving because we don't know what we have yet. We have a whole new system and a whole new coach and a whole new philosophy. It's a brand new team starting over. There's nothing to improve on because right now, we're 100 at everything."
More on the other guys later...