Arenas opens up Howard saga, advising Lin, much more (Pt. 2)
Gilbert Arenas talks with former Magic teammate Dwight Howard every day
Arenas gives Howard, GM Otis Smith advice on how to handle things in Orlando
More: He speaks to Jeremy Lin regularly; offers his thoughts on the Thunder
Gilbert Arenas spoke with SI.com recently about everything from the ill-fated gun incident in 2009 to his recent workout with the Lakers to his hope for the future.
But in the candid 90-minute interview, he also opened up about his relationships with others in the league, how he advises former teammate Dwight Howard and new Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin, and why he shut down his infamous Twitter account.
On his relationship with potential 2012 free agent Dwight Howard, who has sought a trade from Orlando ...
"[I talk to Dwight] every day. I've got a rotation. I talk to Dwight every day, Jameer [Nelson] every day. I talk to Jeremy Lin at least once a week. I talk to John Wall about once a week, and Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale [McGee] every other day.
"I worked out with [Dwight] this whole summer. I was going back and forth with him and Jameer because I wanted to work out with the leaders of the [Magic] team. Once you get their approval, they see you working, and they can speak up for you. I think that's why Dwight was kind of upset at the beginning when I got amnestied because he'd seen me work and saw what I was looking like. But like I told Dwight, business-wise, I had to get amnestied, and then mentally -- to help my career out, to better myself -- I had to get amnestied because I still wasn't right.
"With Dwight, I just told him the grass isn't greener on the other side. If you love Orlando, you stay in Orlando. If you want to be somewhere else, then that's your choice, but make the choice yourself and don't let anybody else pull you for their own reasons. You've got to sit down and look yourself in the mirror every day. You're a young man, and at some point you will win championships. You're too dominant not to win one. But at the end of the day, you've got to do it on your own, to think about it on your own. Don't let anybody else tell you where you need to go.
"I get the same Dwight response: 'I hear you, dawg.' [Laughs] I don't want to say we talk about it, but we have a good line of communication. He always runs scenarios by me, asks me if I watched the game, what does he see out there, and I just give him my advice. Sometimes I'll tell him [he needs] to make the game easier on some of the other players, and when I'd seen Jameer struggling, I said, 'Yo, you've got to talk to him. He's your best friend. Forget teammate -- he's your best friend. You've got to talk to him.' ... I said, 'When your best friend is hearing that you want to go play with somebody else, you start thinking, Man, I've got to prove to him that I'm worth him staying.' Because at the end of the day, they have the most pressure on them because if they don't get the job done, then everybody is looking at them like, 'You didn't keep Dwight Howard.'
"I [told Dwight], 'If you're leaving or you're not leaving, you've got to keep that locker room together. You guys have got to be a family still, because at the end of the day these are the people you fight with, you battle with.' I check up on him after certain games and make sure the spirit is still high, tell him just stay focused and keep trying to dominate.
"To be honest, I have no idea [if Dwight will stay], because like any big decision you're going to go back and forth every day. Like I tried to tell him, it's going to be hard to just go out there and play basketball."
On advising Howard while also being close to Magic general manager Otis Smith ...
"I talk to Otis, ask him what's going on, how's this, what's this? I run things by him. We talk because I have a basketball mind.
"This [Howard situation] has been coming for a long time. Now you're stuck between a LeBron James decision or a Carmelo [Anthony] decision. At the end of the day, you don't want to be in that predicament. Let him walk, and you're going to get killed [by the fans and media]. You trade him, you're going to get killed. It's hard because you're friends with one, have the mentor there, but I try to keep them both separate."
On whether he's waiting around to see what happens with Howard before coming back ...
"We talked about [playing together]. You're reading on one [story] that Dwight is going to leave because he brought players like Gilbert and this and this, and then on the flip side it's like, 'Do y'all know that we're friends and we want to play with each other?' He told me, 'I want you to play with me,' and then when I got amnestied he was like, 'You can't play here anymore?' I said, 'No, technically I can. All I do is just miss this season and then I can come back next season.' Then he was saying all the other teams that he decided he was going to go to, and will I come there? I said, 'Of course. If you want me to play, I'll come with you.'
"What do you do when somebody dominant like him wants to play with you? He still believes in me."
On the scrutiny Smith has received for some of his moves, including trading for Arenas last season ...
"In the NBA, there are reality moves and fantasy moves. Reality moves, only a couple teams do reality moves -- New York, Dallas, the Lakers, Cleveland when LeBron was there, Orlando. When I say reality moves, I mean they tried to make their team better. You're going to [expletive] up sometimes, make bad decisions, make bad trades.
"Cleveland, when LeBron was there, they wanted to win a championship so bad they kept trading that team. Same thing with Dallas. You keep tweaking your team. I call those aggressive moves. They know they've got to keep tweaking it until they get it right. I'm not mad at those.
"I'm mad at the fantasy ones. You can tell it's fantasy ones when you hear stuff like this: 'We're in a rebuilding process. We're going to develop our young players.' You know, when you hear teams say that, as fans, you should basically just go and sit on your couch and get that [NBA League Pass]. Because all that means is they suck but the people don't want to say it and they're going to be sorry for a couple of years, so they want you to keep spending the money and hopefully they can try to get themselves out of it but probably won't because most of the teams who are rebuilding always stay in rebuilding mode."
On the Thunder ...
"One team right now that I see is going to have a problem is the Thunder. Every young team [uses] the Thunder [as an example]: 'Look the Thunder did this, and this is how we're going to go.' But at the end of the day, if you have a whole bunch of young players and they all play well and they become successful, that means you've got to pay them all. And if you have to pay them all, you won't be able to afford them all and basically you're going to have to break up your team a little bit."
On why securing extensions for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook isn't enough for Oklahoma City ...
"You've still got James Harden [who will be eligible for an extension after the season], who is, to me, the second-most-important player on the team. Russell is athletic. He's that Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, that JaVale McGee type, that John Wall, that raw talent. They just have raw talent that is going to make them good. And when they learn the game of basketball, that's when they're going to become great basketball players. Rose is understanding the game a lot. He's developed a lot, but the other ones are still in the midst of finding out who they are and going off of raw, natural talent.
"But James Harden, he has the basketball mind already. He can get his shot off any time he wants, he doesn't force many shots, and if he plays 40 minutes he'll be one of the top scorers in the league and an All-Star. If he comes off the bench, it makes it hard to make that case. So his value is higher in my mind than they can afford.
"[Durant] is, hands down, the No. 1 scorer. The No. 2 option, for me, is Harden. Your No. 3 option is the point guard, but he becomes the No. 1 and 2 and 3 option because he always has the ball. And when you're stronger and bigger than everybody, you're going to have opportunities. So when people say he [Westbrook] needs to stop shooting, I get frustrated. If I'm a coach or general manager, I would never tell that kid to stop shooting, because as long as he's aggressive, Kevin Durant will be dominant. You talk about Russell as a ball-hog, but how is he a ball-hog if Kevin Durant is still leading the league in scoring?
"If this point guard/hybrid -- whatever you want to call him -- is jumping at the rim and blowing past every guard, you have to always focus on him because you don't know what he's going to do. And as long as you're focusing on him, Kevin Durant gets to play the basketball he gets to play, and that's what makes it good."
On Twitter ...
"See, the problem with Twitter is -- especially athletes tweeting in today's society -- they're tweeting fantasy stuff. And when I say fantasy stuff, they're tweets are, 'Oh, we had a good game.' 'Oh, tough loss.' 'Oh, hard day of practice today.' 'All right, tweet fam,' this and that.
"As fans, you get this illusion that that's how these people act. And then when they get upset, and they write some reality stuff, it's [people saying], 'Listen to these rants.' No, that's how he actually feels. The 52 'I love you's and 'Miss you's and 'Talk to you guys later's -- that's the crap. That's the crap they're feeding you, so when you have somebody like myself that goes on Twitter ...
"I don't use Twitter to tell you I'm going to the mall. I'm an entertainer. I'm going in there just to entertain, to ruffle some feathers, to let some of these jokes out and see what kind of response there is. But people got this sense of, 'Well, you're bashing women.' No, I'm not bashing women. I'm telling you what men are thinking, what men are actually thinking about, and you guys are getting mad at me.
"On Twitter, I'm just saying real stuff and making it funny. Story-wise, none of the stories were real. Like the infamous date, where everyone went so crazy and bashed me for, all the women. I was sitting on the couch and I just made the story up. The funny thing is, people who know me are reading me like, 'I know you're not on a date.' And I was like, 'Yeah, I'm not going to put my stuff out in public like that.'
"I don't go out. I'm not going to sit there and tweet with a girl, but the thought of having a live tweet out there was what I wanted to do. Make it seem real. Make it believable. You've got to remember, as long as you write it, then people will believe it. That's the sad part."
On why he shut down his Twitter account ...
"Because I was done. What I wanted to do is, I was giving out my shoes because I knew my fate after the lockout. I didn't need the shoes anymore, so I was giving them away. And while I'm giving them away, I'm going to make you listen to my jokes. So you're forced to listen to my jokes, and hear me say anything that pops up in my mind, which most of the time I'd written down anyway. And you get the shoes. You don't have to pay for it. You just have to put up with my ignorance or whatever. It was all just fun. My tweets were deeper than what people wanted to believe. There was always subliminal stuff inside my stuff."
On his friendship with Jeremy Lin ...
"[Lin] was a Warriors fan during the Agent Zero days. Then this summer, when I went to play in the All-Warriors game, he was on the opposing side and he got a couple shots off, but I hit like five threes -- almost from half-court -- straight on him, and that's what he was laughing about. When we talked today, I was like, 'Man, that shot you hit on [Pau] Gasol, where you just looked him down, and then hit it -- that's the shot right there." He said, 'Wait a minute, you did that shot to me five times.' I'm just so happy that he's getting an opportunity to play. I just tell him the more success you have, the more you work. Just keep working.
"He's a great kid. He wants to get better."
On the advice he has given Lin ...
"When you watch tape, never watch your guy -- the guy you're sticking with. The guy that's sticking you is basically nonexistent. You look at the defenders behind him. How good are they? How good they are lets you know the kind of night you're going to have. Now, if you've got somebody like [Anderson] Varejao, who's going to block shots and take charges and all that, you need to know you just can't drive the lane. You might have to pull up, stay on the side and use the jumper. Or if you have a guy who likes to leave his feet a lot, you'll have a great night at the free-throw line. Look at those guys. Don't look at your guy, because in the NBA you can beat your guy any time you want because you can't touch nobody in the NBA anymore."
On the similarities between them as players ...
"It's not like he's gotten better overnight. What he's doing right now is not an overnight talent. He knows how to play. But at that point [when he was cut] at Golden State they already had players who played [point guard] and he just didn't get his shot. Same thing in [Houston] -- they already had players and wouldn't give him his shot and he finally got his shot and he's doing what he's doing with it. It's basically the style, the same way I started my career. I sat on the bench for 40-something games [with the Warriors as a rookie], got put in and I played well and never looked back. If you have a coach who believes in you, you're going to believe in yourself.
"For a guy who wasn't that athletic, I don't have a 40-inch vertical. It's all my instincts, my basketball mind and my ability to make shots. I talk to [Lin] a lot, and just tell him, 'Just keep attacking, use your body, use your strength, use your deception.' He's not an athletic guy. He doesn't have a 40-inch vertical. He's not the fastest thing moving out there. But when you have size over most of the people you're playing against, you can shoot very well. You can use your strength. You can get in your lane.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to be great at basketball. You just have to understand the game of basketball. You can be athletic and still kill, but the great ones have the mindset. They understand everything about the game."