- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said last night that — while he still plans on opting out this summer to sign a max deal — he is willing to take a pay cut so the team can re-sign Antawn Jamison, who will be an unrestricted free agent.

“Just sign Antawn first, and I’ll take the pay cut,” Arenas said. “That way, we can keep the team intact. I want him to be a done deal first, then I’ll go after that.”

Arenas has one year left on his $65 million deal, but he previously said he would opt out to sign a six-year deal that would pay roughly $14 million a year. Jamison is making $16.36 million this season.

The Wizards traditionally manage to avoid taking a hit from the NBA luxury tax, which penalizes teams whose payroll exceeds the predetermined tax level. Teams pay a dollar for each dollar their payroll surpasses the luxury tax.

But to re-sign both Arenas and Jamison, Washington likely would have to take a hit. Team president Ernie Grunfeld has said the Wizards will do whatever they need to do to re-sign both of those players.

Team president Ernie Grunfeld has said the team will do whatever it needs to do to re-sign both players, but Arenas offered his solution last night.

“We’ve been together six of my seven years, so we understand,” Arenas said. “We know what’s at jeopardy, so I told them give [Jamison] what he wants, and I’ll take the pay cut. I know he’s part of my success. I’m part of his success. We have this 1-2 combination, and it’s effective in this league. We know we make each other better, and someone has to sacrifice. This might be one of [Jamison’s] last contracts, and hopefully I’ll get another one. At the end of the day, if I don’t, I know I did the right thing.”

Jamison, who will turn 32 next season, is averaging 21.6 points and 10.4 rebounds. Arenas, who averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in eight games this season before undergoing surgery on his left knee, said signing for as many years as possible is greater motivation for him than dollars if the Wizards can re-sign Jamison.

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