The Washington Times - June 12, 2009, 12:20PM

      I ran into Gilbert Arenas last night down here in Orlando at the Lakers-Magic game, and as you’ve probably heard, he appears to be in great shape.

     “I lost 20 pounds!” he excitedly proclaimed when I remarked that he looked good. “I feel great. Finally.”


     Halftime had just begun and when we ran into each other, Gil was standing in the tunnel at the Arena, talking to Orlando GM Otis Smith. We chatted a bit and headed down the hall to the VIP lounge, and he may not have been a factor in the NBA for the last two seasons, but Arenas’ starpower hasn’t diminished.

     He was trying to tell me about his workout plan that he’s been on this summer (he’s been training at his home in Orlando), and every few minutes, someone would come up and ask for a picture with him.

     To avoid interruption, Gil suggested we move further down the hall just outside the VIP lounge, but the interruptions continued. Only these were of the star-studded type.

     Tiger Woods stopped on his way back to his seat, drink in hand, wife on his arm, and asked Arenas how his knee was doing.

     “Good. I feel good. Finally healthy again,” Arenas said.

     “Glad to hear it,” Tiger said. “Hey, I just got your game,” Gil said with a laugh. “I’m alright at it.”

     “Good,” Tiger said with a laugh, then said his good-byes and went back to his courtside seat. A short time later, Chris Brown interrupts us.

     “Whatup, family,” he said as the two shook hands then chatted for a bit. Two minutes later it was Rihanna (yes, in the same place as Brown), who walked by and waved at Gil. Then Lil Wayne walks up, stops and asks Gil if he’ll be back to his old self next year. (Never seen him in person before. He should be called Tiny Wayne. He’s beyond little).

     The Orlando players started heading out of their locker room and back onto the floor and nearly all of them asked Arenas how he was doing. It’s rather apparent, there are a lot of people beyond the Wizards faithful hoping for a dynamic return of Agent Zero.

      In between all the interruptions, Gil told me that he has no limitations in his surgically-repaired knee, and that now at 207 pounds, he’s the lightest he’s been since his first season in Washington when he weighed 205 pounds.

     “Now, I’ve just got to add some bulk, the right way,” he said. “I’m going to train with Tim Grover. Head up there in July.”

     Grover is famous for being Michael Jordan’s long-time trainer. And he is largely to thank for Dwyane Wade’s dominant return from injury this season. Kobe Bryant also worked with Grover this past year, and credits him with how he’s been able to remain durable this season despite having played year-round for the Lakers and U.S.A Basketball the last three season.

     If Grover can have a similar impact on Arenas as he did on Wade, it should make for an interesting season in D.C. next year.   

     Arenas said he speaks often with Flip Saunders and is encouraged by the fast start their relationship has gotten off to.

     “I can just tell he respects and appreciates me,” Arenas said. “I’m excited to work with him, Sam Cassell, everybody on that staff.”

     Arenas said Cassell worked him out last Monday, and already he was able to come away with some valuable tips.

     On other Wizards fronts, according to insiders, they have yet to make any trade offers to opposing teams, and are simply in the exploratory stages of checking their options as far as that No. 5 pick goes both as trade bait, or as a selection for themselves. I — and everybody else monitoring the team — think the Wizards still are likely to trade the pick. It’s just a matter of when and for what.