- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gilbert Arenas’ offer to take a pay cut will remain just that: a gesture made to help his team.

The collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players union forbids negotiating contracts downward in order to create salary cap space.

The Washington Wizards’ star guard this week told The Washington Times he would consider opting out of his contract after the 2007-08 season if he does not think the Wizards have improved their roster enough to challenge for a championship every year as he approaches his prime.

He later told The Washington Post he would take a pay cut in order to free salary cap space and help the team in its efforts to upgrade the roster.

Arenas’ six-year, $65 million contract expires Aug. 8, 2009.

The collective bargaining agreement does allow the Wizards to offer Arenas an extension next summer. However, a rejection by Arenas of such an offer would be a clear indication he is considering opting out of his deal in 2008.

Arenas has said he wants to remain in Washington. He also has said he believes president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld will be able to put together a team capable of competing for a championship.

Grunfeld on Tuesday announced the Wizards were preparing to offer coach Eddie Jordan a contract extension. Arenas repeatedly has said he wants Jordan to remain the coach.

But one thing remains certain: There will be no pay cut for Arenas under his present contract.

The only time Arenas can receive less than the $12.8 million he will receive in the 2008-09 season would be under a new contract yet to be negotiated.

Arenas could take a pay cut in 2009 at the start of a new contract, an unlikely scenario in the NBA. Arenas was the fourth-leading scorer in the league last season, and he likely will only be better by 2009.

Also, the Wizards are projected to have just $31 million in salaries by then, potentially leaving a tremendous amount of cash available to spend on free agents.

Arenas averaged 29.3 points per game last season — the most in franchise history since Walt Bellamy averaged 31.6 points for the Chicago Packers in the 1961-62 season — and led the Wizards to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in 18 years.

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