- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Washington Wizards will get another chance to woo an “already impressed” Gilbert Arenas today when the free agent the team covets most has his second meeting with team officials.

According to sources, Arenas will tour the team’s facility and perhaps meet with owner Abe Pollin.

Arenas and his father, Gilbert, flew from Los Angeles yesterday “very excited” about meeting with the Wizards’ brass for the second time in three days, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

On Monday, president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld, coach Eddie Jordan and assistant coach Phil Hubbard met with Arenas and his agent, Dan Fagan, in Los Angeles. The trio returned Tuesday to Boston, where the Wizards have a team playing in the Summer Pro League.

The Wizards’ pursuit of Arenas, the league’s most improved player last season, has become the team’s top priority in the short span of a week.

Arenas, a restricted free agent point guard with the Golden State Warriors, had been believed headed to Denver or Utah. Meanwhile, the Wizards had been content to focus on lesser regarded point guards like San Antonio’s Speedy Claxton and aging Kenny Anderson.

The Wizards are likely to lose Tyronn Lue, their top point guard last season, to free agency.

However, the Wizards made a push for Arenas over the weekend and now might even be considered the front runner for the 6-foot-3 guard, who last season averaged 18.3 points and 6.3 assists.

After Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and perhaps Andre Miller — all under contract — Arenas is considered the next best point guard at a time when point guards are plentiful.

Because he is a restricted free agent, the Warriors can sign Arenas to a deal that would pay no more than $4.9million. However, the Wizards could pay more.

The Wizards probably became more attractive to Arenas on Tuesday when the NBA informed teams that it was raising the salary cap from $40.3million to $43.8 million. As a result, the Wizards now have slightly less than $8.5million in cap space for next season.


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