Gilbert Arenas, Stan Van Gundy Still Struggling to Find Common Ground
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Magic coach Stan Van Gundy knows exactly what's wrong with his recently-acquired point guard Gilbert Arenas.
It's the coaching.
Arenas, who was elated with being traded from Washington to Orlando last month, has shown little of the spark he was expected to provide for the Magic, looking more uncomfortable as the season progresses.
Except for that one big game against Cleveland, when he had 22 points and 11 assists, Arenas hardly has looked like the game changer he was expected to be.
"Gil is struggling right now, and the biggest thing he is struggling with now is me,'' said Van Gundy. "I'm harder on point guards than anyone else. He's not playing with a great deal of enthusiasm. He's not enjoying playing. And I'm a big reason. There is an adjustment he's going to have to make.''
In Wednesday's overtime victory over Philadelphia, Arenas played just 13 minutes and scored two points. His playing time has steadily decreased. When he first arrived, he and starter Jameer Nelson were splitting time. Now Arenas is clearly a backup.
In 16 games, he is averaging 8.8 points, 3.9 assists, 2.3 turnovers and 21 minutes. The explosiveness he once was known for doesn't show up very often. He has looked more tentative now than when he first arrived.
"I don't always know what's expected,'' he said after Wednesday's game. "Offensively, I'm not real comfortable, but I'm making the passes to Ryan (Anderson) and J.J. (Redick) to get them going. That's what I do.''
Arenas, once one of the NBA's most prolific scorers, never has played with a dominating center like Dwight Howard, but he played with talented wing players like Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison in Washington.
"I'm used to playing 40 minutes, where you don't have to be aggressive all the time,'' he said. "That's one of the problems. Used to be, I'd pass it, pass it, get everyone going, then usually have time to find my groove. But by the time that happens here, I'm usually out of the game.''
Arenas wasn't complaining or blaming Van Gundy, but trying to explain why his play was been lackluster. Wednesday was his fifth consecutive game without reaching double figures in points. Van Gundy is reducing his playing time because he doesn't like the way he has played. Arenas is saying that he needs more playing time to find his rhythm.
"I'm out there now, just trying not to make mistakes,'' he said. "Everyone (coaching) has different styles. And once you learn them, it's easy. Once they learn you, they trust you. When I was first with Eddie Jordan (in Washington), I used to get subbed every 15 seconds.''
This is the first time in his career that Arenas is being used consistently as a substitute, an adjustment he accepted when the trade was first proposed. Getting used to the reduced playing time has been an tougher.
"This isn't an easy adjustment for anyone,'' Van Gundy said. "When Rafer (Alston) came in (two seasons ago), he knew I was an A-hole. He was used to it. When Gil first came, he was playing well, and we weren't putting a lot on him. He was playing free. But the more we put on him, the harder it's been. I'm not saying it's my fault, but it's my responsibility to help make it work.''