- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Less than 24 hours after signing team captain Antawn Jamison to a four-year $50 million contract extension, the Washington Wizards made a six-year offer to three-time All-Star Gilbert Arenas, which is believed to be worth as much as $127 million, according to a source close to both parties.

Arenas, who had a 9 a.m. flight Tuesday to China for part of a two-week promotional tour with Adidas, spoke on the phone with Wizards owner Abe Polling during a layover in Toronto. According to a source close to Arenas, Pollin told Arenas: “You’re my guy, and I won’t let you leave no matter what.”

The source said Arenas likely won’t agree to the new deal until returning from China and once the NBA releases the salary cap numbers for the coming year so he will have a better idea of what the Wizards have to work with and how he can help by “leaving money on the table.”

The Wizards also have had preliminary talks with the agent of their other unrestricted free agent, Roger Mason Jr., but his representative, Mark Bartelstein, said the guard will entertain offers from other teams.

“Obviously Roger has warm feelings toward the Wizards,” Bartelstein said. “But part of this whole free agency thing is seeing what else is out there and weighing all your options.”

Mason has one visit scheduled and Bartelstein expects to have set up another three or four by the end of Tuesday.

Wizards management has maintained its intentions of re-signing not only Arenas but also Mason, who is coming off of a career year in which he averaged 9.1 points and a team-high 39.8 3-point shooting percentage off the bench.

Offering Arenas the max would make things tight financially for the Wizards, but a source close to the guard said Arenas is considering “leaving money on the table” to help give his team more flexibility.

Arenas received his offer from the Wizards soon after free agency began at midnight on Tuesday. He also received an offer of five years, $101 million from the Golden State Warriors, the source said. Because Arenas was under contract with the Wizards last season, Washington was able to offer him an additional year under NBA rules.

Although the Wizards’ offer is for an extra year and $26 million, the source said that isn’t a deciding factor for Arenas. The Wizards’ offer carried more weight with Arenas because the guard has emerged as a star in the NBA during his time in the District.

Arenas last month opted out of the final year of his $65 million deal with the Wizards to pursue a long-term max deal and maintained during the entire process that his desire was to return to the District.

The Warriors - the team that drafted him in the second round out of Arizona in 2001 - became players in the Arenas sweepstakes when point guard Baron Davis unexpectedly opted out of the final year of his deal with Golden State. Davis would have earned $17.8 million had he not opted out.

The Wizards were believed to be the only playoff team with the salary cap flexibility to meet Arenas’ demands, but Davis’ move freed up Golden State.

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