Caught in the Web: Gilbert Arenas & Javaris Crittenton have season-long suspensions, Lakers links
After meeting with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas on Wednesday, NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton without pay for the rest of the season for their involvement with having handguns present during a locker room dispute last month.
Lakers guard Derek Fisher, president of the NBA Players Assn., told the Daily News' Elliott Teaford that he and association Executive Director Billy Hunter today "will have a chance to talk about it and decide what course of action should be taken."
The Washington Post's Michael Lee reports in the linked story at the top of this post, however, that Arenas was informed of his fate during that meeting and that he told the players association not to contest the decision. ESPN's Marc Stein and Chris Sheridan add that Arenas told Stern during the meeting that he deserved the season-long suspension.
The weapons were not registered in Washington, D.C., and the guns being present at the Verizon Center violated NBA rules. Just recently, Crittenton learned he will serve a year of probation after pleading guilty for a misdemeanor gun possession. Additionally, The Times' Mark Heisler says that the incident turned for the worse before the Wizards' game in Philadelphia on Jan. 5 when Arenas participated in a pregame skit with teammates pretending to shoot one another.
It's been said that this whole incident wasn't as serious as the New York Post initially reported, which said both players pointed guns at each other. Nonetheless, the incident yielded serious consequences for obvious reasons. Arenas' 50-game suspension is the NBA's third most severe suspension not involving drugs, behind Ron Artest's 86-game suspension for his role in the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004 and Latrell Sprewell's choking of Warriors Coach P.J. Carlesimo in 1997 that ultimately resulted in a 68-game suspension. Meanwhile, Crittenton's 38-game suspension is the league's fourth highest. Before this incident, Stephen Jackson's seven-game suspension for his felony count for criminal reckless driving and firing seven shots near an Indianapolis strip club in 2006 counted as the league's longest suspension for a gun-related offense.
Barring further incident, Stern told reporters in a conference call that Arenas and Crittenton would be eligible to play next season without preconditions, but Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix wonders which team would pick them up.
Lakers links (after the jump)
--Lakers Coach Phil Jackson didn't exactly endorse Lakers forward Pau Gasol and center Andrew Bynum for the All-Star Game. But that might be because he'd rather have his players rest up for the second half of the season.
--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin explained his reasons why he thinks Bynum should be part of the cast. Whether or not Bynum gets an All-Star nod, 710 ESPN's Steve Mason says people should stop picking on Bynum.
--And if Bynum doesn't get a nod? The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Jeff Eisenberg quotes Bynum as saying the reasons "would be more political than anything."
--Whether Bynum gets a spot in the All-Star game or not, there's one thing that's not debatable. The Indiana Pacers had no answer for Bynum's season-high performance.
--UPDATE 11:46 A.M.- The Times' Mike Bresnahan reports Gasol is on the All-Star roster, but Bynum isn't.
--The LA Times Fabulous Forum blog has a poll asking whether Bynum should be traded for Chris Bosh
--Kobe Bryant's clip against the Pacers of 29 points, 10 of 15 shooting, nine rebounds and seven assists, marked the fourth consecutive game Mamba has embraced a distributing role and the second consecutive game he shot at least 50%. And just like there was a practical reason for his poor shooting (fractured right finger), there's also a practical reason for his resurgence. The Times' Mike Bresnahan reports Mamba changed the splint "from a soft, pliant type to a harder plastic that insulates the finger when it gets slapped in games."
--The attention on Lakers reserve guard Shannon Brown largely centers around his ability to make SportsCenter with spectacular dunks. The highlight reels caught the eye of President Barack Obama, and Brown acknowledges that adds an extra layer of pressure for the NBA dunk contest.
--The fact that Lakers forward Ron Artest has struggled learning the triangle offense isn't surprising. But Jackson says his knowledge of the system is still lacking and acknowledges it shouldn't be taking this long.
--The second half of the Lakers' 118-96 victory featured a 24-point deficit, but there was no such thing as a comfortable lead in the first half. While Silver Screen and Roll said that served as the Lakers' practice time, the Daily News' Elliott Teaford says the team's poor first-half defense can't be an issue Sunday when the Lakers face Boston. Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen notices, however, the Lakers' vast improvement on defense this season.
--Jackson shared a theory with the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding on why President Obama invited Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to breakfast Tuesday over him, despite the fact he donated money to Obama's campaign: "Obama admires his game. He doesn't admire mine."
--It may have been just a simple pass. But it was a pass that led to Lamar Odom's three-pointer just before the first half ended. The Times' Broderick Turner noted that pass from Lakers backup guard Sasha Vujacic put a smile on his face because his small contribution made a difference.--I will be doing a radio interview tonight at 7:30 on 830 KLAA to talk all things Lakers. I'll post the interview up tomorrow.
Tweet of the Day: "Sorry greg oden for that girl releasing those nekkid pictures of you in america!! I feel bad that this had to happen to a great BallPlayer." --RONARTESTCOM (Lakers forward Ron Artest on nude pictures of Portland center Greg Oden being posted online.
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Photo: Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas, left, and Javaris Crittenton suspended for the rest of the season by NBA Commissioner David Stern on Wednesday for their roles in a "joke" that involved five handguns in the Wizards' dressing room. Credit: Michael Reynolds / EPA.