After Arenas and Crittenton, Wizards face an uncertain future

The Wizards, once headed in the right direction, leave Antawn Jamison wondering what went wrong.
The Wizards, once headed in the right direction, leave Antawn Jamison wondering what went wrong. (Jonathan Newton/the Washington Post)
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By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 29, 2010

When Arenas and Crittenton brought guns to Verizon Center, they set off a series of

events that has put the future of nearly every member of the organization in flux.

The Washington Wizards' problems were hardly resolved when NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended guards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton on Wednesday for the remainder of the season.

All that has been cleared up is that Arenas won't wear a Wizards uniform again this season, with Crittenton yet to decide if he will appeal the decision, which stemmed from the players bringing guns into the locker room.

The franchise is left to deal with myriad concerns. As one team insider put it on Thursday, "The worst isn't behind us yet."

Arenas is still set to be sentenced for a felony gun charge on March 26 and his relationship with the organization is in tatters -- with both sides feeling betrayed in the aftermath of this incident -- but there is no easy solution for a separation.

The foundering team, which many picked in the preseason to be among the conference's best with its $79.2 million payroll, is in desperate need of a makeover and opposing teams are looking to pluck talent from the Wizards' underachieving roster between now and the Feb. 18 trade deadline. And, more than two months after the death of owner Abe Pollin, his family and prospective buyer Ted Leonsis appear at odds over the sale of the team, leaving the future of the franchise in flux.

This has been a worst-case scenario season for the Wizards, who have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference (14-30). They had to deal with poor chemistry on the court before Arenas and Crittenton's Dec. 21 dispute forced several members of the organization to speak with law enforcement authorities and NBA investigators.

"To be honest man, I'm not happy," Antawn Jamison said on Thursday, as the Wizards prepared to face the New Jersey Nets at Izod Center on Friday. "It's an embarrassment. To go through the things that we went through this year and to have the expectations . . . and to be where we're at right now, this a very disappointing season."

The Wizards have played without Arenas for the past 12 games and Crittenton for the entire season, so they won't have to make any major basketball adjustments. Coach Flip Saunders said the Wizards began to prepare to not have Arenas ever since he received an indefinite suspension on Jan. 6.

"The thing right now, at least there's some closure. I think from the standpoint of the team, we try to put it behind us as best we can and move forward and not have the distraction of wondering what's going to happen if players are going to be back or not," Saunders said, adding that his players have been "just emotionally and mentally worn down."

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