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Ernie Grunfeld on the Gilbert Arenas trade: It's in best interest of team "in short term and long term"

Ernie Grunfeld just spoke to the media for a few minutes prior to tonight's game about the Gilbert Arenas trade.  Here's a summary of his remarks.  He really talked up Rashard Lewis a lot and made it sound like, to me, that he felt Lewis was a better fit for this mix than Arenas.  That's kind of a striking statement on Arenas, if you ask me, since I'm not sure about Lewis' veteran leadership.  

Anyway, his comments are below the jump.


Opening statement: 

We think Rashard is going to really be able to help our frontcourt with his experience, his versatility, his ability to stretch the defense. He's a 39 percent career three-point shooter, and when you have a point guard like John who likes to penetrate and is a distributor, you need people who can stretch the D.  He can play on the outside, but he can post up when he has smaller players on him.  He was a two-time all-star, comes from a great winning environment, and we're really pleased to have him on our ballclub.  This fits into our rebuilding and we're rebuilding around our young players and through the draft, but to be able to do that, you also need some veteran leadership and I think Rashard is one of those players who can lead by example along with Kirk and Josh Howard of course.

EG on how this came together

"The opportunity presents itself this week, and opportunities don't come along that much in the NBA.  We looked at it, we studied it, and felt like it was the right time to make this move in the best interests of our club in the short term and the long term."

"There wasn't a particular moment.  The opportunity presented itself in the middle of last week.  Obviously Orlando is doing some things with that ballclub, changing things around.  The whole thing took 3-4 days from the time we first spoke to the time we completed it."

EG on who might benefit from Arenas going to Orlando.

"It also gives some of our young players an opportunity to play.  Nick Young is going to get extended minutes now, he's had an opportunity to play, he's played real well, he's shown that he can take advantage of time he's gotten and now he's going to get even more of an opportunity to show what he can do."

EG on why Lewis as opposed to maybe Vince Carter or Jason Richardson, who had shorter contracts

"We had discussions about a lot of different people, but everything had to fit for them to make these moves" 

EG on selling this to Ted, while emphasizing that the core foundation will remain young players

You can't have every single player on your team be young.  You need to have some veterans, and I think we have a few veterans that have experience and can provide leadership. I think Ted was on board with this, because it goes right in line with what he's doing for the long term.

EG on whether Gilbert wasn't that kind of veteran

We could have moved forward with him and we had been moving forward with him, but when this opportunity presented itself, we just felt like this was a better opportunity for us to move forward and try to accomplish the things we're trying to accomplish in the long term.

EG on whether he regretted giving Gilbert that $111 million deal in 2008

If you knew somebody was going to get hurt, then of course you wouldn't do that.  But at the time we signed Gilbert, he was one of the top 10 players in the game.  He was averaging 28, 29 a game and there were other teams that wanted to pay him that year.  That year he was a free agent, Golden State lost Baron Davis and they had a lot of cap room, and they were more than willing to sign him.  Looking back on it, we thought it was in the best interest in the organization.  You can never forsee injuries.