To Win, Arenas Says He'll Take a Pay Cut
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Guard Gilbert Arenas said yesterday that he is willing to take a pay cut if it would enable the Washington Wizards to sign a free agent who would make the team more competitive.
Meanwhile, the Wizards will attempt to make sure Arenas gets to play for the coach he wants. Arenas has been a vocal supporter of Coach Eddie Jordan, and Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld said yesterday that the team plans to offer Jordan a contract extension that would keep him from leaving when his contract expires after next season.
Two days after the Washington Times reported that sources close to Arenas said he would consider opting out of his contract after the 2008 season if the Wizards had not gotten closer to contending for a championship, Arenas stopped short of repeating that threat but said he does not want to wind up like other NBA all-stars who have never won a title.
"My whole thing is, the draft is coming up, free agency is coming up and I have to show some concern," said Arenas, who signed a six-year, $65 million contract in 2003. "We can't step back. We can't have another situation where we let Larry Hughes get away. If we have to go get a free agent, let's go. I'll take a pay cut. I was a second-round pick so I didn't expect to be where I am anyway. I'm not greedy but I do want to win a championship and I want to do it here, with the Wizards. That's why you play."
Arenas, who has raised his scoring average in each of the last four seasons and should be just hitting his prime at age 24, said his concerns have been fueled by seeing one of his peers, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, win his first title and by seeing what has happened to perennial all-stars such as Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, who appear to be stuck with teams going nowhere.
"I don't want to be like Garnett, getting close like he did a couple of years ago and then seeing his team go backwards," Arenas said. "A.I. went to the Finals that one year and now he's not even making the playoffs. I don't want to be in that position here. I want us to be like Dallas, like San Antonio, places where players want to come play."
Arenas said he has confidence that Grunfeld can build a championship contender.
"Yes, I do," Arenas said. "I just want to let them know that I'm anxious. I want to win."
Grunfeld, who revived the franchise with the free-agent signing of Arenas during the summer of 2003, said he has no problems with Arenas expressing his feelings.
"I love Gilbert's attitude because he wants to win and we're all on the same page with that," Grunfeld said. "We're all about winning in this organization and we're about playing for a championship ultimately. Winning and losing really matters to him and those are the kinds of players you want on your team."
Grunfeld offered few details about what Jordan would be offered -- either about the length of the extension or the amount of money being discussed -- but did acknowledge that the decision to offer the extension was made during meetings between Grunfeld and owner Abe Pollin, who hired Jordan in June 2003.
Those meetings, which have not included Jordan or his agent, began after Grunfeld returned from the pre-draft camp in Orlando on June 16. Jordan did not attend the camp; the coaching staff was represented by assistants Phil Hubbard, Harvey Grant and Wes Unseld Jr.