Arenas Says He Will Opt Out of Deal in '08

Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas says his decision is based on family and business concerns rather than feelings about the direction in which the Wizards are headed as an organization. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 10, 2007

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said last night that he will opt out of his contract after next season and become a free agent.

Arenas, who signed a six-year, $65 million contract in the summer of 2003, said his decision is based on family and business concerns rather than feelings about the direction in which the Wizards are headed as an organization.

"To me, it's just a smarter business decision to play next season, opt out and then be able to sign a long-term deal that is going to keep me in one place," said Arenas, who is recovering from left knee surgery and expects to be at full speed in time for training camp in October. "I'm not looking at anything else. It's just business. If something happens where they don't want me or they're going in a different direction, I can look elsewhere. But my intentions are not to leave."

Arenas also said he does not plan on hiring an agent. He parted ways with agent Dan Fegan last summer.

"I don't need an agent," Arenas said. "I can do all of this research myself."

According to the collective bargaining agreement, the most the Wizards could offer Arenas this summer is a three-year extension worth between $60 million and $70 million, but the deal wouldn't kick in until his original contract expires following the 2008-09 season.

Once he opts out, Arenas would be eligible to sign a maximum contract covering six years and worth between $90 and $100 million, depending on the salary cap. The Wizards will have an advantage however, because other teams would be able to offer him only up to five years.

Arenas has repeatedly expressed his desire to play for a championship contender but the Wizards suffered a setback this season when he and all-star forward Caron Butler suffered season-ending injuries. Washington was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second straight season.

The Wizards have several free agents, including guards DeShawn Stevenson and Jarvis Hayes and forward Andray Blatche and hold the 16th and 47th picks in the June 28 draft. Arenas said he'd like to see the Wizards acquire a "scorer off the bench" and improve the team's post play.


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