As I've been digesting the news from the last few days the piece that sticks out is Gilbert Arenas' ongoing battle through yet another knee surgery. Hopefully this one isn't as serious, but it's really sad news for the Wizards and for Agent Zero himself. This got me to thinking about the unfortunate circumstances that prevented Golden State from making an offer to keep Arenas five years ago. He was a second round pick and because of the league's compensation structure the Warriors weren't able to go over the cap to retain him. Washington came out the big winner in what had to be one of the lower moments in Warrior franchise history.
Now here it is five years later and the two teams' paths have not been that dissimilar. Yes, Washington has been to the playoffs four times, making it to the second round once, while the Warriors have only made it once (also making it to the second round). But really that has as much to do with strength of conference as anything. By my count Golden State has won 195 regular season games since Arenas left while the Wizards have won 196. That isn't a ton of impact for an event that was supposed to be devastating. Plus for a brief moment there people actually thought Golden State was assembling a team that had a chance to make a significant impact. Washington had a season-long frenzy over Arenas' individual heroics, but nobody's been arguing for their dominance...mostly because Gilbert can't stay on the court. Now both franchises appear to be struggling to find their way and with Arenas' contract starting at $14.6 million this year and ending at $22.3 million in 2014, the chills have to start going down Wizards' fans spines that they might be married to a player who won't produce what they need.
The point is, you never know. Even when a situation looks obvious it often takes unexpected turns. Today's bonanza could be tomorrow's famine...today's steal is tomorrow's lemon, which could be the next day's lemonade for someone else. The old adage that it's not how many times you fall down, it's how many you get up certainly applies in the NBA. Nothing is guaranteed but nothing is lost irretrievably either. Weathering the bumps is as important to franchise health as smart money management and good talent decisions. In the summer of 2003 most people would have sworn they'd rather be the Wizards than the Warriors. Now they're probably not so sure.