- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2008

The Wizards are caught in the clutches of a long-shot proposition after only 20 games.

Their playoff prospects are faint, their franchise player remains on hold and their long-term viability is in doubt.

The Wizards, in forging the worst record in the Eastern Conference, would have to play at an approximately .587 pace the rest of the way to be in the playoff mix.

That is the assignment, improbable as it is, for a team with a rookie center and a retooled backcourt that was vying to be the worst in the NBA.

This remains a potential calamity in the making that could set the franchise back a number of years.

Or until the six-year, $111-million contract of Gilbert Arenas runs out.

The health of Arenas is the dynamic that haunts the franchise in incalculable ways.

The chance of Arenas returning to who he was after three knee surgeries appears increasingly remote.

Arenas has endured one setback after another since originally injuring his left knee in early April two seasons ago.

That is the cold reality, no ifs, ands or spin about it.

Arenas has become the growing doubt that no one in the organization dares acknowledge, except in hushed tones.

As it is, Ernie Grunfeld has been reduced to groping for a light switch in the dark.

He has fired the coach and pulled the trigger on a trade that improves the team only in small measure, at least in the short term.

Dee Brown is possibly scratching his head after going from starting point guard to unemployed within 24 hours.

This is the unsettling nature of a team that is in free-fall mode. All that is left is the splat.

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