One of Stan Van Gundy's greatest failures in his extremely successful tenures as Orlando's head coach was his attempt to reign in Gilbert Arenas and make him a backup point guard. It was extremely frustrating for Arenas, the organization and Dwight Howard.
In the end, Arenas played only 8.0 points per game in 49 games, shooting 34.4 percent from the floor. He was cut using the NBA's amnesty clause after the lockout ended in a move Arenas even acknowledged was a good one. The Magic are paying Arenas $20 million this year and next as part of that deal.
Arenas was cast off into the netherworld, boucning around the NBA and trying to find a job before ultimately becoming an NBA castoff.
Arenas played this season in China where nagging injuries kept him from having the season he wanted. But, Arenas at the end of the season, began looking like Agent Zero again. He averaged 20.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, shooting 50.0 percent in 27.3 minutes per game.
He had some big games at the end of the season and was his old self, interacting with fans in and around Shanghai. In other words, Agent Zero was back.
He will be on the cover of SLAM magazine this month and spoke with Karan Madhok about his time in China:
SLAM: But it does seem like the joy in your game is back. Being back on the court, back with teammates…
GA: You know, that’s all basketball is. If someone loves something, and you take it away, it’s like, what does he do now? What does someone do? That’s what happened with me in the last couple of years in the NBA when I went to Orlando, and then I got benched. And I was in Memphis and I wasn’t playing. It was just like, why do I wanna keep doing this? So then when I got the chance to come to China to play…OK! As long as I get to play.
SLAM: You’ve sort of had a mini-resurrection of your career over here in China. Even though you missed games with injury, just to see you on the court and playing big minutes, it’s a great thing for the fans.
GA: Yeah, you know, that’s all that it was about. Even this year, in the beginning, I was thinking when I got hurt that this has been going on for the last three years of my career. Some little ticky-tack injuries been keeping me out for long periods of time and I’m getting benched. So when Yao decided that he wasn’t going to cut me, he was going to keep me, I was like, Thank you Lord! I can’t wait ’til I get on the court to show that I can actually play at a high level. So I’m just happy that he gave me the opportunity.
Hopefully Gilbert Arenas is doing well in China. Wish him all the best. He always a fun guy to talk to.