HALIFAX - Dominic McGuire didn’t draw a gun. He didn’t threaten a teammate, but he was affected all the same when Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton let a gambling wager get way out of hand just before Christmas in 2009.
Arenas and Crittenton brought firearms into the Washington Wizards locker room in one of the more bizarre and most talked-about NBA episodes ever.
The result was both players being suspended for the remainder of the season and Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld taking a stick of dynamite to the remaining roster at the trade deadline.
McGuire, a 6-foot-9 defensive specialist, was just another piece of the shrapnel. When the dust cleared on trade deadline day he was one of six Wizards traded elsewhere.
By parting with McGuire for a second-round pick, the Wizards got under the luxury tax. For McGuire it put his career, at least temporarily, in freefall.
“So I got traded to Sacramento and then I got hurt and I’m in my contract year so I couldn’t get a deal,” McGurie said picking up the timeline. “I ended up signing a one-year deal to go play with Larry Brown in Charlotte. Then we had the lockout so I was a free agent that summer and the lockout basically messed everything up. With training camps opening the same day free agency opened I just had to find a team and I went with Golden State.”
Fortunately for McGuire, waiting for him in the Bay Area was Warriors head coach Mark Jackson who helped McGuire re-establish himself in a league that looked like it might just be done with him.
“I played a lot,” McGuire said. “He instilled a lot of confidence in me. He let me play and let me really just showcase my whole game.”
While he was hoping to establish some roots in Oakland, the changes weren’t quite over for McGuire, but his time there did put him on Toronto’s radar.
Head coach Dwane Casey had admired McGuire’s defensive work from afar last season and when the talks turned this summer to shoring up some defensive holes in Toronto’s roster, McGuire’s name rose to the top of the list.
“He’s a defender first of all,” Casey said. “He’s that tough, gritty, grimy defender who has experience and he’s an excellent passer. He can get the rebound and bust out and start the break. He’s a legit 6-foot-9 and he can guard multiple positions so that will be his speciality.
“He’s somebody we felt like we needed and we went after him and luckily we got him,” Casey said. “It was a long process. We weren’t sure we were going to get him. I think Brooklyn was interested in him. I know Golden State coaches — I talked to them and they wanted to get him back, but we’re glad we have him.
Casey said McGuire’s year with Golden State got his career back on the right track.
“He was a specialist for Golden State,” Casey said. “He knew who he was. He knew his role and that’s what he is going to be for us. He’s a tough guy but a great teammate. Guys love him. He’s a guy who puts his hard hat on every day and he’s our kind of guy. We need that in our mix.”
McGuire is hoping to stay in that mix for a good long time.
“I’m never worried about getting a job, but I would like some stability and hopefully I can find a home here with Coach Casey and his system because I feel it fits me perfectly,” McGuire said.
RAPS LETTING BIG V REST UP
The Jonas Valanciunas question gets asked every day in camp.
And so far the answer has been the same.
“We’re not waiting for him to come back, we’re kind of waiting for him to naturally get healthy and we’re not going to rush him,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said of the rookie centre.
“I’m not looking or asking every day if he’s coming in, when he’s here, he’s here. When he comes, it’s at his own pace.”
But even with a strained calf he suffered during pre-camp scrimmages, Valanciunas is still getting more attention than anyone else in a Raptors uniform.
The next issue of Sports Illustrated with have a Valanciunas story courtesy of Chris Mannix entitled ‘The Strong Euro.’