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Once Ted Leonsis takes over as Wizards owner, he'll face dilemma with Gilbert Arenas

(Jahi Chikwendiu - Twp)

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By Mike Wise
Friday, March 26, 2010

Now that Ted Leonsis and the Pollin family have agreed in principle on a purchase price for the sale of Verizon Center and the Washington Wizards, the subject of Leonsis's first major decision will be in court Friday afternoon awaiting sentencing on unlawfully possessing a firearm in the District.

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Just what will the Wizards' apparent owner-in-waiting do with Gilbert Arenas, whom prosecutors want to see jailed for at least three months for his gunplay incident with Javaris Crittenton and subsequent cover-up in December?

Trade him? Try to void his contract and begin an exhaustive house-cleaning? Or build around the three-time all-star, who was once responsible for pro hoops' resurgent relevance in Washington and is now to blame for its virtual disappearance?

First, I am betting Leonsis gives Arenas a big hug, because he's that type of person and he has always been fond of Gilbert. Next, I wouldn't be surprised if he spent quality time with Arenas and tried to get to know him better as a human being, rather than relying on caricatures that range from big, childish goof to gun-obsessed menace. Then, he will play video games with Arenas (unless they involve guns, I'd imagine).

Why? Because Leonsis knows that's something that would touch Gilbert's hot button, if you will, and the new owner of the Wizards is all about connecting with the people who work for and with him.

Lastly, Leonsis will give Arenas a copy of his book, "The Business of Happiness," and ask him to read it -- unless Gilbert wants to pay for it, in which case Ted takes Visa and MasterCard.

Then -- and only then -- will he ship Gilbert to the Nets.

No, really.

On Friday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin could sentence Arenas to anything from probation to five years in prison for flouting District gun laws, but depending on the outcome of that decision, Arenas's other judge could have more to do with his future livelihood -- and whether that future is in Washington.

The gut here is that Leonsis takes the same search-and-

discover approach that eventually paid dividends with the Capitals. If Arenas wants to be in Washington -- if he genuinely wants to be part of the rebuilding process that he helped make necessary with his actions -- Leonsis will probably hold on to the veteran guard, provided he believes he still has several years of all-star caliber play left.

But what does Leonsis do with Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld? Because the drama around the team has become almost comical lately -- between the Arenas incident in December, a franchise-record losing streak this month and all the petulance around Andray Blatche's recent refusal to play -- it doesn't look good on the surface.


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