Don't Expect the Wizards to Shed Gilbert Arenas' Contract
But if recent history is any indication, the Wizards won't void Gil's contract because of this incident, no matter how severe the penalty from league offices.
Again, the details of the standoff are unconfirmed -- the New York Post reported that Arenas and Crittenton drew firearms during a locker room dispute over a gambling debt, while Yahoo! Sports reported only that D.C. police (working with the U.S. Attorney's Office) are investigating the circumstances under which the Wizards and the NBA were made aware of Arenas housing firearms in his locker at the Verizon Center.
If the most severe allegations are deemed true following the NBA and police investigations, Arenas will face a stiff penalty from the league, likely a suspension of at least a few dozen games. The NBA under commissioner David Stern has worked overtime to clean up its image, which has unfairly been ridiculed by sportswriters and fans, considering the legal troubles the NFL and MLB have faced. An OK Corral styled locker room showdown is a P.R. nightmare for the league, and the league will both want to punish the players for the embarrassment and show the world it doesn't take this sort of thing lightly. (The league really doesn't take these things lightly. Ask Stephen Jackson.)
And while, yes, every NBA player's contract has a clause permitting teams to void deals based on bad behavior (of which drawing a gun on a teammate at practice surely qualifies), it never happens, and it won't here. Whether teams feel they can't get away with voiding contracts (players can appeal, in which case the matter goes to arbitration), or whether teams don't want the stigma attached (possibly deterring free-agent acquisitions), it just doesn't happen.
Golden State could have voided Monta Ellis' contract in 2008 when he injured himself in a moped accident. (The uniform player contract expressly prohibits moped fun.) Indiana could have tried to void the contracts of Stephen Jackson or Jamaal Tinsley, who were involved in a nightclub shooting. It could be argued that Jackson, like Ellis, had enough basketball value to prevent such a rash decision by the team. But Tinsley didn't: the Pacers ended up icing Tinsley for the entire 2008-09 season, and bought out the remaining two years on his contract this past summer. If the Pacers could have shed Tinsley's contract because of the shooting incident, they would have.
As such, don't expect the Wizards to attempt to cut Arenas' $96 million deal. The only detail that gives me pause in making that assertion is that Ted Leonsis is preparing to take control of the franchise, and he could really use a clean slate. But again: the fight from the players' union would be fierce, and I'm not sure league leadership would encourage the Wizards to draw the battle lines here.