Wizards questioned in gun probe
WASHINGTON -- Three players were meeting with authorities involved in the Gilbert Arenas gun investigation. Two were suspended, including one who had nothing to do with Arenas.
Another was excused. Another was sore and was scheduled for an MRI.
That left the Washington Wizards without enough players to hold a decent practice Monday morning. No wonder Flip Saunders cut things short after less than an hour, and no wonder the coach had an obvious answer when asked if things were starting to get back to normal.
"Considering that we had three guys meeting with lawyers and the district attorney this morning during practice? No," Saunders said. "We have people still meeting with people. We had only eight people available. That's something right now that we have to live with and fight through."
Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson were the players called away because of the investigation. Saunders sat before the grand jury looking into the case last week, and Randy Foye met with authorities Friday. Investigators appear to be working their way through the roster to obtain every detail possible about the guns Arenas kept at the Verizon Center and the Dec. 21 spat between Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton that prompted Arenas to take the guns out of his locker.
"You pretty much look at it as two guys really made poor judgment," said Antawn Jamison, one of the team's captains. "They let something heated dictate a poor judgment."
Arenas was suspended indefinitely by the NBA last week, pending the outcome of the investigation. Crittenton has been excused by the team from practices and games while the legal process plays out. While Arenas has acknowledged keeping guns in his locker and taking them out in a "misguided effort to play a joke," Crittenton has kept a low profile, revealing no details about the incident and saying through his lawyer that he did nothing wrong. Crittenton has an injured foot and hasn't played this season.
The last thing the Wizards need is yet another distraction, but a new one was added to the list when Saunders announced that Andray Blatche was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team," including a series of unspecified actions during Sunday's loss to New Orleans. Blatche missed Monday's practice and will sit out Tuesday's game against Detroit, returning for Wednesday's game at Atlanta.
Saunders said Blatche's actions were unrelated to the Arenas investigation. Blatche has already been penalized by the team for an Arenas-related incident -- he was one of four players fined $10,000 last week for clowning around when Arenas pantomimed shooting guns before a game at Philadelphia.
Then there's Mike Miller, who finally returned Friday after missing 21 games with a strained right calf -- only to aggravate the injury during the third quarter Sunday. Saunders said Miller would be day to day, but the veteran was having an MRI just in case.
"It's too much already," Jamison said. "But this is our job. This is what we get paid to do. When things are going well, you still got to do your job, and when things are not going well, you still got to do your job. ... I can't be down. I'm going to enjoy it, whether I have six guys out there."
The Wizards have actually played relatively well the last two games, despite the absence of Arenas and the accompanying swirl of attention. They beat Orlando on Friday and were tied in the fourth quarter with New Orleans before losing by five.
But Jamison is starting to wonder how much adversity the team can handle.
"We've learned just as much as you can possibly learn," Jamison said. "With injuries and off the court distractions and things of that nature, knock on wood, what else can we learn from? It wears on you."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press