More Fun with Gilbert Arenas

Boy this topic will not go away.

Gilbert Arenas.

Yeah, it is another post on the Magic’s former All Star recent acquisition. I spent a lot of time the other day explaining why Arenas is still not quite fitting in to Orlando’s offense but has shown some signs of improvement, comfort and, most importantly, aggression.

But Arenas’ 2-point, 1-for-4, 1-assist outing in 13 minutes Wednesday against Philadelphia raised a lot of questions (didn’t stop the Jameer detractors from still calling for him to step into the starting lineup). This was most likely Arenas’ worst game in a Magic uniform and Stan Van Gundy gave him the early hook because of how ineffective he was playing.

Stan Van Gundy addressed the struggles in his postgame press conference Wednesday.

“He’s struggling right now, and I think right now, quite honestly, the biggest thing that he’s struggling with right now is me,” Van Gundy answered in the article written by Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily an easy adjustment for anybody, but for a point guard, I think it’s tough. When Rafer [Alston] came in midseason [in 2008-09], he had played for me before. And, so, he knew I was a [jerk], and he was used to it. I only say that half-jokingly. He knew what it was going to be like and the whole thing. And I’m harder on point guards than anybody else. I’m sure Jameer [Nelson] could vouch for that.

“Here’s what I think happened. If you really look at it, when he [Gilbert] came right in, he was playing well because we weren’t putting a lot on him. He was just playing. He was playing well. He was playing free. And the more expectations I’ve put on him and the harder I’ve been and a little bit quicker hook and all of that, it’s been hard on him.

“I think a good part of that is . . . my responsibility. And he and I have to, I think, sit down and talk and try to get a better understanding of each other and what’s going on, because right now I think Gil’s not playing with a great deal of enthusiasm. I don’t think he’s enjoying playing. And I think the way I’m coaching him is a big reason.”

And when Van Gundy said “jerk” he said a word that rhymes with “grass bowl.”

This is a strange thing for Van Gundy to said. He said at the beginning of the season he was going to try and be lighter with his players and not be the constant yelling, negative presence he has been. Perhaps this is a sign that statement was not just preseason talk. Van Gundy recognized some of his actions may be holding his team back.

It is tough to be a point guard in Van Gundy’s offense. He wants different things from a lot of his players both on offense and defense that kind of fly in the face of traditional offensive and defensive strategy. Arenas said a few weeks ago he was adjusting to playing with Dwight Howard behind him and Van Gundy’s funnel things toward him defensive strategy.

But it is no doubt Arenas has been something of a disappointment since the trades.

It would have been unfair to expect him to be 2006 Arenas who could score seeming at will. But it is fair to expect Arenas to shoot efficiently and become an even better player with so many more weapons around him. Arenas is still trying to figure out how to fit his game into the offense, and you can see the struggles — both physically and mentally — when he is in the game.

Credit Van Gundy for trying to correct any issues and being proactive about it. Everyone on the team knows a Wednesday night game against Philadelphia is not the end game for this team. It is all about preparing for the bigger games on the horizon. Otis Smith told Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel he is just looking for flashes of brilliance right now.

“I want to see flashes of brilliance,” Smith said. “They don’t have to be brilliant for 82 games, but when you get into the postseason then you have to be brilliant. When they’re playing right now, you have to see flashes of brilliance.”

The adjustment period is still ongoing. 

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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