The story with Gilbert
As I wrote in today's paper, Gilbert Arenas plans on opting out of the final year of his contract after next season so he can become a free agent. Arenas, who signed a six-year, $65 million deal in 2003, is set to pull in $11.9 million next season and would make $12.8 million in 2008-2009 if he played out his deal.
The Wiz have offered a maximum three-year extension worth around $50 million, and that would kick in at the conclusion of his current contract. But Arenas said it would be a wiser business decision to opt out because he will be eligible to sign a maximum six-year deal worth $90 million-$100 million next summer.
Here's the hook for worried Wiz fans: While saying that he's eager to play for a contender and wants the Wiz to make the right moves to get there, Gilbert also made it clear that his intention is to remain in Washington where his career has taken off. Also, the collective bargaining agreement states that the Wiz will be able to offer a six-year deal. Other teams will only be able to offer up to five.
Gilbert said that the combination of having a second child, experiencing the first serious injury of his basketball playing life and getting one year older contributed to his decision to wait and sign a long term deal next summer.
"At the end of the day, it just makes good business sense to opt out," he said yesterday from New Jersey, where he was participating in a Halo video game event. "This is not about basketball. It's about what's best for my future."
According to the folks I've spoken with, the Wiz are not at all surprised by the decision because they understand that Arenas stands to make more money by opting out and signing the longer deal. Now, the wild card will be how this upcoming season unfolds. Gilbert said he's "way above schedule" in rehabbing his left knee and will be back to his old self come October, but just how will he respond to that injury? What moves will Ernie Grunfeld make between now and training camp to beef this team up for a rapidly changing Eastern Conference?
As for the timing of the decision, I chalk that up to Gilbert being Gilbert. Seriously. The conversation started with one thing - yesterday's Hoops for the Homeless event that Gilbert attended with Magic Johnson - addressed the draft, touched on the Finals and wound into Gil's thoughts on the future. That's life covering Gilbert. From my experience with him, I don't see this as some sort of calculated maneuver to force the Wiz into making certain moves this summer. Then again, as I've stated often in the past, I'm always careful about reading too much into what Gilbert says on a given day. Gilbertology baby. You gotta love it.
I know some of you are ticked off that I'm down here in San Antonio covering the Finals instead of being in Washington on top of the pre-draft workouts, and I understand. Don't worry, I'll be back for more workouts this week and I'll do my best to get you the best draft info possible. My man Mike Lee has some family responsibilities going on this weekend so he couldn't go to Games 1 and 2, but he will take over in Cleveland so I can get back to Wiz biz.
The Wiz are working out the following players on Monday: Boston College F Jared Dudley, Villanova F Curtis Sumpter, North Carolina F Reyshawn Terry and Virginia State F Avis Wyatt. I got a good look at Dudley and Terry down in Orlando at the pre-draft camp two weeks back and was impressed by both. Dudley, who was a terrific player at BC, is somewhat of tweener. He's not really a small forward but at 6-7, 225, he's not a power forward either.
That said, he plays with a high energy level, has a nice mid-range shot and is a beast on the boards. Sort of reminds me of a taller Caron Butler in that regard. Terry was very active, particularly in gettting out and running the floor. He also shot the ball well from outside, which makes sense considering that he ranks third all-time on North Carolina's three-point list. I've seen Wyatt listed as a second-round pick on some mock drafts.
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