Suspension Looms for Arenas

There's been a fair amount of hype -- thank you, New York Post -- surrounding the pre-Christmas incident involving Gilbert Arenas, Javaris Crittendon and a couple of firearms. Let's cut through the most sensational aspects of the story, and concentrate for a moment on what we know to be true:

  • Arenas, by his own admission, was storing weapons in his locker at the Verizon Center.
  • The District of Columbia has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. The maximum sentence for carrying an unlicensed firearm in DC can be as much as five years in prison.
  • We don't know whether or not Arenas' guns were licensed. We do know that he's had problems maintaining proper gun licenses in the past; he served a one-game suspension for exactly that during his first season with the Wizards.
  • The NBA also has a zero-tolerance policy on firearms, written right into the collective bargaining agreement since 2005. Players are strictly forbidden from bringing a gun to any NBA arena, venue or event.

Considering all that... even if the most innocent explanation turns out to be accurate, that Arenas moved the guns out of his house out of concern for his children's safety, and that the incident with Crittendon was simply a practical joke gone bad... it seems likely that Agent Zero will be hit with a significant suspension.

Why hasn't that happened yet? The league is likely waiting to see whether or not Arenas and Crittendon are charged with crimes. The severity of the charges could impact the league's response. But even if no charges are filed -- a possibility that seems remote at this point -- David Stern has the power to suspend Arenas, and the length of that suspension is at his discretion. A "remainder of the season" suspension -- similar to the one handed to Ron Artest for his role in the "Malice at the Palace" brawl in Detroit -- could be coming.

The Wizards could also attempt to void the remainder of Arenas' contract -- but that probably won't happen unless/until Arenas is found guilty of a felony. That could happen, but it will take months to resolve. (For comparison - the Plaxico Burress incident happened Thanksgiving weekend in 2008. He didn't enter his guilty plea until the following September.)

What's a fantasy player to do?

It seems the Wizards will continue to play Arenas while the investigation is ongoing, so keep him in your lineups until you hear otherwise. You could try to trade him... but like Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld, you'll likely find very little interest.

In the meantime, it would make sense to adjust your roster under the assumption that you'll be losing Agent Zero for a significant portion of the second half. That might mean picking up additional scoring, or making a waiver claim on the best available guard in your league. Randy Foye is an obvious player to target, and he's available in most ESPN Leagues (just 5.8% owned).

Also worth considering -- even before this story broke, there were tons of trade rumors surrounding the Wizards, and the possibility that Grunfeld might deal veterans like Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison or expiring contracts like Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller and Mike James. Losing Arenas for a significant period of time could jump-start that process, which might make younger Wizards like Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young.


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