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Agent Zero could be left with nothing

January 15, 2010

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, currently serving an indefinite suspension from the NBA, keeps his head down as he arrives to face felony gun charges at the District of Columbia Superior Courthouse in Washington January 15, 2010.Gilbert Arenas’ guilty plea on Friday to felony gun possession could allow the Washington Wizards to complete their Arenas purge and rid themselves of the remaining $80 million owed to ‘Agent Zero’.

Due to a standard morals clause in NBA contracts, the Wizards may have grounds to void the remainder of the six-year, $111 million contract Arenas signed in the summer of 2008.

Termination of his contract will not be cut and dried, however, even with a conviction.

“(Washington) can attempt to take any action they want, but if it contradicts or violates the collective bargaining agreement, then we will litigate over that,” Billy Hunter, the NBA Players Association executive director said.

Wizards fans could well ask: how did it come to this so quickly? Less than two years ago, Arenas agreed to take less money than the Wizards were offering when he agreed to stay with Washington.

The goodwill gained from the ease of that contract negotiation has all but disappeared. If this had been his first hiccup, the felony conviction alone would be hard enough for Arenas to overcome. Talk of terminating his contract would have come in whispers, and not through shouts from the rooftops.

In 2003,  Arenas pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon in San Francisco, and he was suspended for Washington’s home opener in 2004 for the incident.

After the news broke that Arenas had four firearms with him at the Verizon Center last month, he was photographed making gun gestures with his index fingers during pre-game introductions.  This not only led to an indefinite suspension from NBA Commissioner David Stern, but added another potential nail to his Wizards coffin.

Arenas is not the first player to run foul of the law over firearm possession. When Stephen Jackson was with the Indiana Pacers, he pled guilty to a felony count of criminal recklessness for firing a gun outside an Indiana strip club. He was suspended for seven games.

In April 2007, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Sebastian Telfair was suspended for three regular-season games after pleading guilty to criminal possession of a weapon. It was his second firearm-related suspension.

If Arenas’ playing career in Washington does come to a premature end, other teams are likely to take a chance on the three-time All-Star.

“There will always be a team that’ll want to claim his talent,” sports agent David Falk said. “I don’t think they’ll pay him $111 million, but never forget that when the suspension ended for the player that choked his coach at Golden State, Latrell Sprewell, one of the first teams to put a claim for him was the Washington Bullets. So teams are always going to want a player of Gilbert’s talent.”

  • Yes, as long as he helps his team win who cares what he does off the court
  • No, professional athletes should be held to higher standards

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