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Wizards Won't Try to Void Arenas Contract

Mar 28, 2010 – 11:10 AM
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Tom Ziller

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If Wizards G.M. Ernie Grunfeld hadn't made it explicit in recent comments in support of embattled star Gilbert Arenas, let Saturday's assertion ring throughout the land. Despite hordes of pundits reporting that the Wizards would try to void Gil's massive, long-term contract in the wake of his locker room gun episode, Grunfeld told a media pool Saturday the team will not attempt to cancel the deal, and Arenas is expected to be back in a Washington kit next season.

As I insisted on these hallowed pages the day the incident between Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton came to light, voiding an NBA contract is a near impossible objective, barring abuse of heavy drugs or gambling on games. Guarantees are basically guarantees. You have to really work hard to get your deal voided. Make it your life mission. Arenas didn't do that, and won't even spend time in jail (something a few other players can't say). Of course the Wizards can't void his deal.

Further, the team is, in all likelihood, stuck with Gil for a while. Arenas is due $17.7 million next season. He hasn't performed well enough in a season to warrant that since ... 2006-07. In 2011-12, Arenas is due $19.2 million. He'll be 30 years old. And he'll have another two years and $43 million remaining on his contract.

With the collective bargaining agreement in 2011 promising to shrink payrolls, Washington will be left with a major anchor for three seasons under the new world order. That's the only reason "voiding" came into speculatory vogue -- because the Wizards really do need to escape this contract. It's so massive that incoming Wizards owner Ted Leonsis really has to wonder whether it's even worth chasing any major free agents with this summer's cap space. If the team caps out this July, Leonsis could be left paying exorbitant levels of luxury tax in future years, or if a hard cap is instituted could be forced to go into a future season with half a roster of minimum salary players. It's tricky waters, and this all assumes Arenas can again be an effective player.
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