Arenas a Wizard, Warriors decline to match offer sheet

Updated: August 8, 2003, 11:17 AM ET

WASHINGTON - It's official. Gilbert Arenas is a member of the Washington Wizards.

The NBA's Most Improved Player in 2002-03, Arenas signed an offer sheet with the Wizards on July 22. The Golden State Warriors had 15 days to match the offer under NBA rules for restricted free agents.

The only surprise was that Golden State took the entire 15 days to announce it would not match the offer, which was reportedly a six-year deal worth more than $60 million.

The Warriors wanted to retain their starting point guard but are nearly $5 million over the salary cap and had just the $4.9 million mid-level exception to offer.

A day after Arenas signed his offer sheet with Washington, the Warriors signed free agent point guard Speedy Claxton, a backup with the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs last season.

Arenas, 21, became an explosive scoring point guard in his second year for Golden State. He averaged 18.3 points per game, second on the team behind Antawn Jamison, and helped the Warriors improve 17 games to a 38-44 record in the rugged Western Conference.

One of the quicker players in the NBA, the 6-3 Arenas was 11th in the league at 6.3 assists per game and also averaged 4.7 rebounds and 1.51 steals while playing all 82 games.

"Gilbert is an outstanding young point guard and we feel fortunate to add a player of his caliber to our roster," said Wizards new president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld. "He was one of the marquee free agents this offseason and we're pleased to make him a part of a very exciting future here in Washington."

In Washington, Arenas joins a rebuilding team which features nine players that are 25 or younger, along with two-time All-Star Jerry Stackhouse.

Ironically, Arenas will be reunited with Larry Hughes, whom he replaced as Golden State's starting point guard two years ago. Hughes signed a three-year, $15 million deal with Washington last summer.

The Wizards saw firsthand what Arenas is capable of when he scored a career-high 41 points in a 113-107 victory at the MCI Center on March 23.

"Gilbert will have an immediate impact on the growth of this team," said new Wizards coach Eddie Jordan.

In the Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend, Arenas scored 30 points to give the Sophomores a 132-112 victory over the Rookies and claim MVP honors.

After being selected in the second round of the 2001 draft, Arenas started Golden State's last 27 games of the season and averaged 10.9 points and 3.7 assists.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index