Sunday, April 29, 2007

Speaking to the media for the first time since his season-ending knee injury, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas did not rule out the possibility of opting out of his contract next summer.

Arenas, who suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee on April 4, which required surgery to repair, said the main criterion for him to stay with the Wizards is if the team continues to show progress toward a championship.

“I have one more year to see how everything pans out,” he said. “So going into next summer it is going to be either this team is going where I think it can go or is it my time to move on?”

Arenas spoke at a press conference before last night’s Game 3 against Cleveland in which he was introduced by EA Sports as the cover player for its NBA Live 2008 this fall.

Arenas has two years left on a contract that expires after the 2008-09 season, when he will earn almost $13 million.

Arenas, who does not have an agent, could sign an extension with the Wizards this season, but that isn’t likely, considering that there would be teams lining up to give him a max deal if he does opt out.

Arenas fired agent Dan Fegan — who negotiated his six-year, $65 million contract — and has been without one ever since.

“Right now, I’m my own agent,” Arenas said. “But I’m not ruling [an agent] out completely.”

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Arenas is considering Jeff Wechsler among others.

A touchy subject with Arenas is the Wizards losing a starter from their roster in each of the last two seasons.

Guard DeShawn Stevenson, a good friend of Arenas’, is a free agent who started every game this season. But because of salary cap restrictions and potentially higher bids by other teams, the Wizards may lose him this summer.

“You have to really think about it,” Arenas began. “If we lose DeShawn, that would be another starter going into free agency behind Larry [Hughes] and Jared [Jeffries]. But that’s not my call. That’s for Ernie [Grunfeld] to decide.”

Before Arenas was injured, he was enjoying a great season, averaging 28.4 points. He set the franchise record with 60 points in an overtime victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. Five days later, Arenas scored 54 points in an overtime victory against the Phoenix Suns.

Voted an All-Star starter for the first time, Arenas became just the second player in franchise history to score 2,000 points in three consecutive seasons.

Arenas also ruled out playing with the U.S. national team this summer.

“I’m just going to throw everything out the window until this leg is better, until I’m back to the point where I can move like I want to be able to move,” said Arenas, who added that doctors have told him he should be 100 percent by Aug. 1. “I’m not going to jeopardize the 2007-08 season to play on the Olympic team.”

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