(excerpt from espn.com)
Gilbert Arenas never follows convention, so did you really expect him to take an orthodox approach to his upcoming free agency? Sunday night, Arenas fired the opening shot in negotiations with the Washington Wizards … by offering to take a pay cut.
The premise put to him was that it would be hard to expect the Wizards to re-sign Arenas and fellow free agent Antawn Jamison while keeping to their stated goal of staying below the NBA’s luxury tax threshold.
“Just sign Antawn first and then I’ll take the pay cut, to keep the team intact,” Arenas said.
Gilbert Arenas says he will give up money to keep the Wizards intact. Reporter: You’ll take a pay cut?
“It depends how much [Jamison] wants,” Arenas said.
“We’ve been together six out of my seven years. I told him, whatever he wants, give it to him, and I’ll take the pay cut. “I know what he does, I know he’s part of my success. We have this 1-2 combination that we use and it’s effective in this league. We know we make each other better. Someone has to sacrifice. This might be one of his last contracts, so I’ll have to sacrifice and hopefully I’ll get another one at the end of the day.”
Later, Arenas implied he would also be willing to take a lower salary to play for a contending team.
“Going to a team like the Lakers, Dallas, any championship team, I’d have to take a pay cut to go there,” Arenas said. “The pay cut is, if I leave I have to take a pay cut, if Antawn comes back, I’d have to take a pay cut.”
Jamison’s response to Arenas’ statements?
“Typical Gilbert,” Jamison said. “He wants to make sure that we keep everybody together. He’s letting everybody know he’s willing to make a sacrifice to do that. You’ve never known him to be a selfish guy. He’s different — don’t get me wrong on that …
“He wants me to come back and I want him to come back as well. We talked about it throughout the season. I told him I don’t plan on going anywhere. He said he was going to make sure he wasn’t the reason I couldn’t come back.”
A Wizards source, when told of Arenas’ willingness to play in Washington for less money, said: “That’s a nice gesture, but the onus is on us to take care of all of our players. We’re going to do everything at our disposal to make sure we take care of our franchise players.”
The source said the Wizards are authorized to go within $1 of the luxury tax threshold. This season the luxury tax level is $67,865,000. Any team going above it must pay a 100 percent tax for every dollar above that amount and also are ineligible to share in the luxury tax revenue that is shared with teams who remain below the threshold. Next season’s luxury tax threshold is expected to be around $70 million.
Arenas, 26, says he will opt out of the remaining year on his contract, which was due to pay him $12.8 million next season. Jamison, who turns 32 in June, is in the final year of a contract that paid him a team-high $16.4 million this season. Both will be eligible to sign contracts up to six years in length.
Jamison is probably looking at a pay cut as well, even if he hasn’t expressed a desire to do so. No team will likely have more than $12 million in salary cap space to use for an incoming free agent, so Jamison won’t have any leverage to drive up his price in Washington.