The Washington Times - July 1, 2008, 08:02PM

I found out another interesting tidbit of information in regards to Agent Zero’s trip that will have him out of the country for the next two weeks.

It was previously reported — and this came from Gilbert‘s mouth himself — that he was going on a trip to China as part of a promotional tour with Adidas. I got word a bit ago that the first leg of the trip IS marketing with Adidas. But from there, Arenas will fly to Berlin and Barcelona doing promotions with the NBA for the Wizards’ European tour, which features a pre-season game in each city this October.


Now, the way I see it, that’s another positive sign for the Wizards. Why would Arenas — who has told me that he wants to turn himself into an international brand — do promotions for Washington playing in Spain and Germany and then bolt for another team, which wouldn’t be playing overseas this fall?

I know there’s confusion in regards to Ernie Grunfeld offering Arenas a max deal, but reports surfacing that Arenas will sign for less. Why would he say all along that he wanted a max deal and not take it, right? Hard to say, but Arenas DID say during pre-game before a matchup with the Lakers out West late in the season that he would take less money if it meant keeping the band together. Jamison has re-signed, so now it’s down to Mason and Gilbert.

Agent Zero knows he isn’t hurting for money. He has a $35 million deal with Adidas and knows that gives him flexibility to sign for less. He is aware that he could take much less and go to a championship contender, but this is his city, in his words, and he’d rather try for a title alongside two other All-Stars, playing for an owner that loves him and a general manager that loves him. And that’s why he will wait until the salary cap figures and luxury tax figures come out next Tuesday to decide what to sign for. The cap is expected to be somewhere around $58 million and the luxury tax could come out at about $69 million. The Wizards can go over the salary cap to sign players. But if they spend more than $69 million, they will have to pay dollar for dollar every dollar that they go over that luxury tax ceiling. So, Gilbert wants to help by making sure whatever he signs for gives the team some room to sign someone else in addition to him while avoiding exceeding the tax.

I could see Mason getting away, however. Although he is from the area and would love to stay here, he knows it’s a crowded back court. I’d make him sixth man, but that might not happen. He wants to see if the Wizards cam give him that type of commitment, but doesn’t have a feel for how things will shake out. “It’s not JUST going to be about money,” he told me this afternoon. “I definitely want to go somewhere that I can have a significant role.” Can that role be here in the District? Or is Mason better off taking his skills to a place where he could have an outside shot at starting and at the very least be a sixth man? Stay tuned … As soon as I find out what seven teams are interested in him and what visits he has scheduled, I’ll let you know.