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UPDATED: Gilbert Arenas's contract will not be voided by Wizards

Updated 10:17 p.m.

For the first time, Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld publicly shot down speculation that the team would look into terminating the remaining four years and more than $80 million remaining on suspended guard Gilbert Arenas's contract.

"We're not going to void his contract, and as we've said all along, he's going to be with us," Grunfeld said Saturday at a hastily arranged news conference before the Wizards' game at Verizon Center against the Utah Jazz.

The comments were the first in public by Grunfeld since Arenas was sentenced for felony gun possession in D.C. Superior Court on Friday. Grunfeld reiterated previous comments about bringing back Arenas, who was ordered to serve 30 days in a halfway house, two years of supervised probation, 400 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine after bringing four guns to the Verizon Center in a dispute with Javaris Crittenton on Dec. 21.

A person with knowledge of the Wizards' thinking said on Friday that the Pollin family was not interested in pursuing the complicated task of contract termination, which has never been successfully carried out in the NBA. Grunfeld went a step further Saturday, making the case for welcoming back the three-time all-star into the fold.

"I think people sometimes tend to forget that he's still one of the best players in this league. He averaged 23 points and seven assists when he was with us," Grunfeld said. "He's a dynamic player and he was just coming back off injury. So we plan to have him back and we plan to have him in uniform this year."

The gun incident embarrassed the franchise and generated hard feelings on both sides. The Wizards organization was upset with Arenas's initial carefree attitude, while Arenas was angered that the team distanced itself by ceasing to promote him and sell his jersey in the wake of the incident, which also led to Arenas's NBA-mandated suspension in January for the remainder of the season. Grunfeld said that he has not spoken with Arenas in a few months, but plans to soon sit down with him. He added that Arenas might have to regain the trust of fans upon his return.

"Gilbert is one of the more popular athletes to play in D.C. in a really long time. And a lot of people had a lot of great affection for him," he said. "He did some magnificent things on the basketball court and what happened a few months ago, some people are disappointed in. He has to maybe get the love back from some of those people, but I think a lot of people will accept it and there may be some that don't. Only time will tell what those percentages are going to be."

The incident and its aftermath expedited the rebuilding process for the Wizards, with Grunfeld making several cost-cutting deals at the trade deadline to ship away Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson. The moves brought the Wizards below the luxury tax threshold this season and created nearly $18.7 million in available cap room for this offeseason -- trailing only the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets.

With the fourth-worst record in the NBA, the Wizards are ensured a high lottery pick, and they also acquired a first-round choice from Cleveland.

"I think we put ourselves in a position, where we have a lot of flexibility with the trades that we've made," Grunfeld said. "We have a lot of cap room. We have a lot of draft picks. All of these are going to help us to improve the team and getting a player like Gilbert into the fold is only going to help."

"Good players always want to play with good players and they want to be in good situations and at the end of the day, they want to have a nice salary," he said. "We're in a position that we can afford those nice salaries if that's what we choose to do this summer. We might do some things this summer, but we might do save some money for the following summer."

Grunfeld said that he has not spoken with prospective new owner Ted Leonsis because he still answers to the Pollin family. But when asked if he was confident that Leonsis would allow him to complete the next reclamation project, Grunfeld sounded hopeful.

"I think I'm pretty good at what I do. I have a pretty good track record and we'll see when new ownership takes over what happens," Grunfeld said. "I think we've done a pretty good job here and if you look at the other places I've been, I've rebuilt several teams, many times over. So I'm confident in my abilities. It's a good challenge and I'm looking forward to it."

By Michael Lee  |  March 27, 2010; 7:12 PM ET
 
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Comments

Translation: We're not able to void his contract and we're trying like hel* to trade him....

Posted by: randysbailin | March 27, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

And anyone has to ask why the Wizards are losers every year!

The paying fans should get a refund of the money paid to this zero.

Once again, the Wizards prove they are in the running for the worst managed pro team ever!!!!!!!

Posted by: mrcox54 | March 27, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Can't we just start over? We have to get rid of G.A... Legally, how can this contract not be voided? What world are we living in? If I went to work and offered up a gun choice for my co-worker, I WOULD BE FIRED!!! I do not forgive him and I do not want him! Lets Go CAPS!!!

Posted by: DCFanatic | March 27, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

After what Grunfeld has done to the Wizards, he seems pretty confident about returning with new mgmt. Wonder why.

Posted by: mendonsa | March 27, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I am happy Gill will be back with us .Don't forget all he has done in the past for this city. He has helped a lot of kids and schools.He is still a good person .I hope he comes back to Barry Farms this summer. Good luck Gill and welcome back.

Posted by: lazy1520 | March 27, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

something gilbert said in court yesterday..(im with my teammates more then my real family so they are my real family...families have fights and they make up .i forgive everyone i dont hold grudges i wish everyone could forgive me)....if u cant forgive sumone u have too much hate in ur heart becuz lets rememeber he didnt do sh-t to u guys so why the hell are u all mad....if him and jc are friends...why are we still MAD...in the last 2 months they called and texted each other 246 times...and they have ever reason to diss like each other...

Posted by: MrNoOne | March 27, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

it's ernie's contract that needs to be void. he is such a clown.

Posted by: Phillip258 | March 27, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Now THERE'S a bad decision right there!

Posted by: jeffcoud2 | March 27, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Grunfeld also said that he expects to be making basketball decisions this summer after Ted Leonsis's epxected purchase of the franchise?

The only hope us Wizard fans have is...

Hopefully Ted has been paying attention to whats been going on with the organization and is smarter then some on here that believe Ernie was just following Abe's order when he made the moves he has.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 27, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Why should Gil be traded to a better team after all the destruction he has caused.. He should be made to come back and try to fix this situation. Ernie is a different story..

Posted by: bigceedee | March 27, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Judge who sentenced Gil Arenas buttocks like basketball and loves the big money peeps before his honor in court no doubt. Now, the rest of us should never bring guns to the job or threaten anyone with a gun YOU will go to jail more often than not. The Gilbert Arenas got more game and no shame and who is to blame for his flame?

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | March 27, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

"I think people sometimes tend to forget that he's still one of the best players in this league. "

If he weren't, he'd be out like yesterdays diapers.

Posted by: larmoecurl | March 27, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Arenas is simply another reason why the GOP will win in 2012.... Just another prime example why the Black man cant lead..... A disgrace to his race.... Just remember Gilbert you had your finger on the trigger that killed the Black mans hope....

Posted by: waxtraxs | March 27, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Watching a great Kentucky-WVa game. Since it is looking like we will have Gil on the floor next year, as well as Blatche, I think Cousins has to be off of our draft list. Totally basing this on nothing but watching his body language during games, so take that for what it's worth.

His temperment reminds me a bit of Rasheed Wallace, without the over-the-top moments. He seems to pout a lot. No question he is very talented, just like Rasheed and should ultimately make a good pro. But for a team with two guys prone to knuckleheaded behavior already featured (will Blatche continue to mature, or revert with Gil back next year?), I don't know if they can afford another potentially bad attitude.

As an aside, nice to see Rod Strickland on the bench with Calipari. Always kind of liked him as a Wizard depsite his faults. The only things that were missing were the hot dog and the towel.

Posted by: ts35 | March 27, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

You can take the thug from the hood, but not the hood from the thug.

Nuff said.

I hope the first comment is accurate.

Posted by: dc1020008 | March 27, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Arenas is simply another reason why the GOP will win in 2012.... Just another prime example why the Black man cant lead..... A disgrace to his race.... Just remember Gilbert you had your finger on the trigger that killed the Black mans hope....

Posted by: waxtraxs

You seem to be lost, the racist rant board is two blogs over to the far right.

Posted by: ts35 | March 27, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Clearly the Wizards have determined that they cannot void the contract. Even if the organization made the determination that Gilbert makes the team better, there is no way they think he will ever be nearly the player he was before his injuries. They certainly could not think he is worth half of what they owe him.

So the only explanation is that their lawyers can't figure out a way to dump him.

Boy, it sure will be great seeing Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison in The Finals this year! Just like old times when Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and the rest of the escapees were able to win it all!

Yep. The Wizards are one of the best farm teams in the league. Can't wait to see who they get next.

Posted by: noslok | March 27, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

You seem to be lost, the racist rant board is two blogs over to the far right.

Posted by: ts35

--------------------------------------------------

not intended to be racist just the perception of an average American. Sorry I am not buying a NBA player bring guns into Verizon Center plays well into the whole positive Black image....

Posted by: waxtraxs | March 27, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Um, extrapolating the ability of one black man (President Obama) based on the behavior of another black man who bears no connection to him other than the color or their skin? Doesn't that define racist? By the way, isn't the GOP currently run by a black man?

Gilbert Arenas bringing guns into the arena affects the positive image only of Gilbert Arenas.

Posted by: ts35 | March 27, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

not intended to be racist just the perception of an average American.

Posted by: waxtraxs | March 27, 2010 9:42 PM

average american or average idiot tea party reject?

Posted by: divi3 | March 27, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

"Watching a great Kentucky-WVa game."

I wanted WVA to win, but fact is, Kentucky gave that game away. Never seen a tournament team shoot that poorly from the outside. Butler's victory was a much better played contest.

But Cousins and Wall did not look NBA ready, which is boost for Evan Turner, who does.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 27, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

By the way, these unfamiliar posters are trolls.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 27, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert Arenas bringing guns into the arena affects the positive image only of Gilbert Arenas.

Posted by: ts35

--------------------------------------------------

And one catholic priest molesting a child doesn't effect the perception of the entire catholic religion..

Posted by: waxtraxs | March 27, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

It's no surprise, really, that Leonsis would keep Grunfeld on as GM, at least for the immediate future. Leonsis has been a 45% owner for Grunfeld's whole tenure, and while Abe had majority control, it is fair to assume that Leonsis has been in the loop all along,and is in the position to judge whether Grunfeld knows his stuff or not. So I think we are hearing that Leonsis has made the call on that.

Posted by: PostSubscriber | March 27, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Tonights game another example of the opposition just hanging for 3 Q's & then just playing their game and blowing out the much lesser talented Wizzies. I think this cudda been a 30 point game by 1/2 time if the Jazz tried.
At least everyone is getting to play.
Not like last year.

Posted by: VBFan | March 27, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ernie this is the reason why I will never spend $200 for a Wizards ticket again. You will continue to pay this idiot Gilbert, nothing is done to Andre for mouthing off to the coach-in fact the coach apologizes and the player is not even benched. Your organization is a disgrace. I don't want my children exposed to the Wizards. I will no longer support this team.

Posted by: kiko9999 | March 27, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ernie this is the reason why I will never spend $200 for a Wizards ticket again. You will continue to pay this idiot Gilbert, nothing is done to Andre for mouthing off to the coach-in fact the coach apologizes and the player is not even benched. Your organization is a disgrace. I don't want my children exposed to the Wizards. I will no longer support this team.

Posted by: kiko9999 | March 27, 2010 10:47 PM

And who do you really think your hurting by not supporting the wizards? Your kids or other fans?...because by you and your kids not coming to any games, ACTUALLY helps " REAL, LOYAL, and DEDICATED TRUE FANS " because thats more seats that are open for others to buy!! RETARD!

Posted by: rf2litenva | March 28, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

As a long time Caps supporter since '79, ironically the year I started supporting the Bullets too, I hope TeddyL some how get rid of the whiney, b!tchy stupid stink that is the Wiz crtics errrm...fans.

They are the bad luck & hex on this franchise . They alone have brought this upon themselves.

I hope they all die. They know which one they are.

True fans don't scream sooooey as much as those Wiz@ss.

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 28, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

And who do you really think your hurting by not supporting the wizards? Your kids or other fans?...because by you and your kids not coming to any games, ACTUALLY helps " REAL, LOYAL, and DEDICATED TRUE FANS " because thats more seats that are open for others to buy!! RETARD!

Posted by: rf2litenva
Yea im sure they will be lining up to see a lottery team.

Posted by: Mark_Edwin | March 28, 2010 3:21 AM | Report abuse

There's no way in heel Ernie keeps his job. Ted is a very smart man that will most likely clean house.

Posted by: Mark_Edwin | March 28, 2010 3:25 AM | Report abuse

Bad move on Ernie and new owner Ted. No closure until Arenas is removed from the DC area. The district is a proving ground for violence, gangs, and shootings. The Wizards are sending a message "it's ok to do this."

Posted by: calabash2 | March 28, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

There will always be a dark cloud over D.C. as long as Arenas and Ernie are in town.

Posted by: calabash2 | March 28, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Yea im sure they will be lining up to see a lottery team.

Posted by: Mark_Edwin | March 28, 2010 3:21 AM

And im sure you'll be watchn as well because if not you wouldn't waste your time with kiko999 and others posting on here if you didnt follow them to some degree!

Posted by: rf2litenva | March 28, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

If Gil and Ernie don't bear grudges against each other, welcoming Gil back can work -- as long as Gil is not pg.

A lot of Ernie's "mistakes" were apparent only in hindsight (after bad luck like injuries), and Abe likely was a big influence in some decisions (Gil's big salary). Regular readers of WI have plowed this field many times before. If Ted, the man paying the bills and sitting across the table from Ernie looking him in the eyes, still thinks Ernie's got it and is not burnt out because of all this, then I'm for Ernie staying.

It's Flip that worries me most.

Posted by: 7snider7 | March 28, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I am pretty sure that Leonsis has approved of Gil staying with the Wizards, he does own 44% already. In an interview, Leonsis was asked about the Gilbert situationa and he said he believes in forgiveness and looks at the overall character of the individual. But, know this, Gil will be kept on a short lease if need be. I say Welcome Back Gil. He created the mess and brought the organization down, if he loves Pollin as he claims, then he should do whatever is in his power to bring back some positiveness to them as well.

Posted by: ivyleague | March 28, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I also meant to say, give him a chance. I truly believes he feels horrible about the situation and serves no one any purpose to keep harping on it. It is, what it is. I say add some additional pieces and let's roll with it.

Posted by: ivyleague | March 28, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ernie this is the reason why I will never spend $200 for a Wizards ticket again. You will continue to pay this idiot Gilbert, nothing is done to Andre for mouthing off to the coach-in fact the coach apologizes and the player is not even benched. Your organization is a disgrace. I don't want my children exposed to the Wizards. I will no longer support this team.

Posted by: kiko9999

Don't let the door hit you on the way out...

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Posted by: itkonlyyoudd | March 28, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Arenas is simply another reason why the GOP will win in 2012.... Just another prime example why the Black man cant lead..... A disgrace to his race.... Just remember Gilbert you had your finger on the trigger that killed the Black mans hope....

Posted by: waxtraxs | March 27, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

LOL

Posted by: rbpalmer | March 29, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

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