If the Wizards hope to keep Gilbert Arenas past next season, they'll have to ante up.
Washington's outspoken star told two Washington-area newspapers that he plans to opt out of his contract after next season. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Arenas can sign a more lucrative extension if he were to opt out of the six-year, $65 million contract that he signed in 2003 than if he simply added years to the existing deal.
"To me, it's just a smarter business decision to play next season, opt out and then be able to sign a long-term deal that is going to keep me in one place," Arenas said, according to The Washington Post.
Arenas said that he will act as his own agent, and at least at this point, he's not seeking to leave the Wizards.
"I'm not looking at anything else. It's just business. If something happens where they don't want me or they're going in a different direction, I can look elsewhere. But my intentions are not to leave," Arenas said, according to The Post.
However, he told The Washington Times that he will gauge other teams' interest.
"I'm going to opt out and consider some other teams next year," Arenas told The Times. "I want to test the market and test my value."
The Wizards said Sunday they are committed to keeping Arenas.
"As a three-time All-Star and one of the league's best players,
we understand why a player of his stature would like to be
compensated accordingly," Wizards president of basketball
operations Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement.
"Gilbert has made a significant impact with his exploits on the
court and a sincere connection with our fans and our community
because of his compassion and generosity. Gilbert has said that his
intention is to remain with our organization and we are committed
to having him spend his entire career as a Washington Wizard."
Arenas finished third in the league in scoring this season, averaging 28.4 points, and helped the Wizards reach the playoffs for the third straight year. But he missed the postseason after having knee surgery April 5.
He scored 30 or more points in 35 games and 50 or more points in three, including a franchise-record 60 against the Los Angeles Lakers in December.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.