Wizards Expected Arenas to Opt Out

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 11, 2007

Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld says the team was not surprised by Gilbert Arenas's announcement on Saturday that he plans to opt out of the final year of his contract next summer.

Arenas, who signed a six-year, $65 million deal with the team in 2003, has turned down the team's offer of a three-year extension with the idea that he can command a maximum contract worth more than $100 million over six years when the free agency period opens next summer.

Grunfeld has been prepared for just that scenario, according to a statement released by the team yesterday.

"We expected and anticipated that Gilbert would elect to opt out of his contract," Grunfeld said. "Gilbert has said that he intended to opt out for business reasons with the ability to sign a longer and more lucrative deal. As a three-time all-star and one of the league's best players, we understand why a player of his stature would like to be compensated accordingly."

While he has repeatedly expressed a desire to see the Wizards put together a championship contending team, Arenas made it clear on Saturday that his decision to opt out is based primarily on business concerns. Arenas is scheduled to make $11.9 million next season and $12.8 million in 2008-2009, the final year of his original deal.

Last summer, Arenas said he would consider taking less money on his next contract if it would help the team add high-caliber players to the roster in coming seasons.

However, Arenas said Saturday that the knee injury he suffered in April and the recent birth of his second child has led him to view his financial future in a different light.

"It's very important that I secure my future," Arenas said. "Next summer, I will be in a position to sign a contract that will give me 12 solid years in this league. When I came in as a second round pick [in 2001] that's something I never imagined."

Grunfeld said the Wizards plan to keep Arenas in Washington, and a stipulation in the collective bargaining agreement could help. According to the CBA, the Wizards can offer Arenas a six-year contract once he opts out next summer. Other teams can offer only up to five years.

"Gilbert has said that his intention is to remain with our organization and we are committed to having him spend his entire career as a Washington Wizard," Grunfeld said.

Wizards Notes: The team will continue working out draft prospects today when forward Jared Dudley (Boston College), forward Curtis Sumpter (Villanova), forward Reyshawn Terry (North Carolina) and forward Avis Wyatt (Virginia State) visit Verizon Center. The Wizards hold the 16th and 47th picks in the June 28 draft.

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