5 Reasons The Grizzlies Should Not Add Gilbert Arenas

The business of sports reared its ugly head today, this time it was Sam Young who was traded to the 76ers in a deal that saw the Grizzlies get below the luxury tax threshold.  With that happening, Memphis now has an available roster spot and rumor has it that they are interested in Gilbert Arenas.

Arenas is a free agent after the Orlando Magic used the amnesty clause on him at the beginning of the season, and he is still looking for work.  The 30 year old guard is a 3 time All-Star who averages 21.2 points and 5.4 assists for his career.  He would be the backup point guard, a position that the Grizzlies have struggled at all season, and add more scoring off of the bench.

But is the risk worth the reward? Coach Hollins is doing a great job with the players he has and unfortunately for Arenas his services are not needed on this particular team.

Here are the five reasons why the Grizzlies should not sign Gilbert Arenas:

1.  It will throw off team chemistry
This is not a knock on Arenas, but it is just a fact.  It takes players and their teammates time to get acclimated to one another.  This is made more evident in a shortened season, where every game matters that much more. Memphis has good chemistry now and having to integrate Arenas, or any player, may throw that fragile chemistry off.

2.  Arenas is an aging guard whose best years are behind him
While 30 may not be that old for an athlete, Arenas’ skills appear to be leaving him.  Averaging 21.2 points for your career is pretty good for any NBA player, but when you look at his numbers since the ‘06-‘07 season you see a major drop off in production.  It maybe because of the  MCL injury in 2007 and the season long suspension in 2010 following his locker room altercation with Javaris Crittenton where guns were involved, but his last four seasons he only averages  16.3 points per game.  That is about six points per game lower than his average for the first six seasons of his career where he averaged 22 points per game.

3.  OJ Mayo has emerged as a more than capable back up point guard
Since the Grizzlies traded Greivis Vasquez at the start of the season, they have struggled to find consistency from young guards Jeremy Pargo and Josh Selby.  Due to their inconsistency Mayo has been doing most of the backup point guard work.  He runs the offense well enough to give Conley some much needed rest, while still being the scorer the Grizzlies need off of the bench to stretch the defense.  With Mayo playing as well as he is playing at the backup point guard position it does not make since to sign Arenas. Why add Arenas when Mayo is doing what Arenas will be asked to do?

4.  The Grizzlies are not better with Arenas on the roster
Adding a 3 time All-Star with the ability to score like Arenas has most teams in the NBA salivating, but Memphis already has scorers and defined roles.  With the core four of Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph (when he returns from his injury) the offense is always going to be able to pound the paint and score buckets.  And when Z-Bo returns from injury Marreese Speights will be another scorer along with Mayo off of the bench.  Arenas does not shoot the three particularly well as he is a career 35% three point shooter, and over the past four seasons he is only shooting 30%from behind the arch.  So he will not stretch the court any more than Mayo, Conley, or Gay.  With Arenas’ recent decline in production I just do not see how he will make the Grizzlies any better.

5.   If Memphis adds Arenas it might be the Allen Iverson situation all over again
And nobody wants that.  The two situations are eerily similar.  Both players were once prolific scorers, who had some off the court issues, and a reputation for being more confident in their skills than others were.  Remember when Iverson was not pleased with is role coming off of the bench?  How will Gilbert react when he is not getting the minutes or the shine that he is accustomed to getting? It does not make sense to possibly put your franchise through another situation like the Iverson debacle when everything is going smoothly.  As of today, the Grizzlies are the fifth seed in the Western Conference without one of their best players.  They are on the verge of getting Z-Bo back, and there is no reason to risk it all on the acquisition of Arenas.

C.J. Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum. 

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  1. Stefan Antohi says:

    It’s funny how the author writes as if Arenas would somehow own the team and hold them hostage if they brought him in. If he’s unproductive and disrupts team chemistry, then bench him…simple as that. The risk is really being overstated here. FYI, they are signing, not trading for Arenas, and they only have to offer the veteran’s minimum. Arenas knows this will be his last chance to prove himself and so he will give it his best effort. If it doesn’t work out, then the Grizzlies will just have lost $1.5mil and be back at the same place they are now. C’mon people, let’s be realistic about the risk/reward ratio here!

  2. Interesting . . . I made a case for why the Grizzlies should sign Arenas immediately over on 3 Shades of Blue:

    I understand everything you said, and see how you get there. I just think there’s just as good a chance that all the factors you mention go the other way.
    1. Reports on Gil is that he’s well liked by his past teammates. Not to mention that Hollins has crafted a tough minded crew. Hence, few chemistry issues.
    2. Even if his best years are behind him, I’m guessing he’s still got plenty in the tank. We don’t need 26 ppg/12 apg from him; If he can bring a reliable 12 points, 4-5 assists, and make 2-3 from the arc each night, his contribution would be HUGE.
    3. While I think running the point helps O.J. get into his scoring rhythm, and he HAS improved at the point, I’d still favor the savvy playoff vet off the bench. Plus, Juice has proven to be more streaky as a shooter. We haven’t really seen Juice get hot as a scorer since his second year.
    4. An Arenas/Mayo backcourt off the bench gives you two capable ball handlers and two capable shooters. I really don’t see how that doesn’t improve the team.
    5. Finally, I think it’s unfair to compare Arenas to Iverson. If anything, the Iverson situation set a precedent, and the team’s recent success solidified it: This is a team that works hard, plays for each other, and does what coach says. If talks get serious, Hollins will explain in no uncertain terms what he’d expect, and how to earn minutes. And Arenas would either fall in line or be stapled to the bench.

    If Arenas is acquired and performs well in the playoffs, Memphis would fall in love with him. And what’s more, I think he could be exactly the kind of X-Factor that pushes the team into the WCF or maybe the Finals.

  3. They should add him. He might be doing worse than before but that’s not bad.

  4. And you coach where and for who? These are grown men and 4+year vets. Gilbert Arenas at his best is an all-pro at only 30 years of age. The Guy would be coming off the bench as a long distance threat. Wouldn’t disrupt anything

  5. Allen Young says:

    These are all WEAK arguments. Sounds like the writer, CJ Hurt, is scared to think that our team could get any better. It can, with G. Arenas!

    1. It will throw off team chemistry – Not a problem. This dude will only be accepting the role as a 2nd stringer. He will give Conley a chance to rest and we won’t have to worry if the ball is going to be stolen on its way up court in the hands of OJ, Pargo or Selby. It will NOT disrupt team chemistry.

    2. Arenas is an aging guard whose best years are behind him – Again….all we want is someone who can bring the ball up court and be a bit of a field general during times when Conley needs a rest. And maybe he can hit a 3 pointer once in a while. The last 3 pointer I can remember Pargo or Selby hitting was the one at the half where Pargo hit a sunk a shot from half court.

    3. OJ Mayo has emerged as a more than capable back-up point guard – I disagree. I am very comfortable with OJ at the 2 spot. But as the point guard, let’s admit it here. We’re all still nervous when he’s handling the ball in the back court. Many times when they double team him, he throws it away., or he needa to call a time out.

    5. If Memphis adds Arenas it might be the Allen Iverson situation all over again – This is a weak argument. Anyone we get could be an Allen Iverson all over again. What makes you think he’s an Allen Iverson type? Hopefully there is only one Allen Iverson. And he’s not playing ball any more. I don’t think Arenas has ever said, “ME, PRACTICE? WE’RE TALKING PRACTICE HERE!”

  6. Don Woody says:

    IMO, while the essence of your argument is valid the substance rings hollow. Howls about “locker room cancer” and “getting old and slower” rang out on the airwaves and in print when Chris Wallace took a flyer on a certain woebegone New York Knick and everyone seems to think that turned out fine. When he is right, Gilbert Arenas is an offensive force to be reckoned with. The gun incident in DC has evolved into the Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame news bite that defines Arenas in the minds of many. I am sure he would relish an opportunity to redeem his game and his stature as one of the Association’s most lethal scorers. Memphis offers a unique situation for that. The Grizzlie locker room is solid. Tony Allen, Z, Juice, MCJr, 33 and the rest can take care of the locker room; if Chris Wallace believes this makes the team’s wobbly perimeter stronger then do it. The risk is slight. The potential is great. The Hibachi wants to sizzle again.

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