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Arenas stuck with his plan despite having to undergo a second surgery on the same knee in November. He missed 69 games while recovering.

But injury didn’t dissuade Arenas from opting out. And as the season drew near its completion, he said he considered a long-term deal more important than a top-dollar contract. Aware that the Wizards would have to re-sign Jamison, Arenas said he would take less money if it meant retaining the team captain.

Arenas remained true to his word and took less than the max.

“I had to show my respect for the team,” Arenas said. “This is the team that gave me a chance. From Day 1, [Wizards owner] Abe Pollin told me I was his guy and I was going to lead his team. I was 20 years old, and he told me that. Now they gave me the max, they recognize me as a max player and they gave it to me, and I’m taking that max and giving $16 million back to the team.”