Worst free agent signing in Washington Wizards history: Gilbert Arenas
6 Years, $111 million
One of the most exciting players of the 2000s was the man they called “Agent Zero,” point guard Gilbert Arenas. He made the NBA as a second-round draft pick and after two seasons with the Golden State Warriors, Arenas hit the open market, ultimately signing a six-year, $60 million deal with the Washington Wizards.
Arenas was an offensive force for the entirety of that contract, averaging as many as 29.3 points per game in 2005-06. The problem was not with that contract, but the one that came after.
In 2008, he opted out of the last year of his contract and negotiated a new contract with the Wizards, leveraging a larger deal against the threat of signing elsewhere. He put his name on a six-year, $111 million deal.
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Things were not as positive once this contract began. Arenas missed part of the next season to injury, and in 2010 was part of an incident where he brought guns into the Wizards’ locker room and brandished them.
The variety of personalities in that locker room became too much, with Arenas and teammate Jarvis Crittenton getting into an altercation they brought guns to.
Arenas ended up facing a myriad of suspensions and even a felony charge related to bringing an unlicensed gun into his workplace.
Things continued to unravel, with the Wizards collapsing to the bottom of the standings. They would draft Arenas’ replacement first overall, taking Kentucky point guard John Wall.
In December 2010, Arenas was sent to the Orlando Magic in return for Rashard Lewis, another of the league’s overweight contracts. He would make the playoffs with both the Magic and later the Memphis Grizzlies as a backup point guard before ultimately retiring and playing overseas.
Arenas is just one example of many showing that NBA front offices are both flawed and under a number of conflicting motivations and pressures, both internal and external.
They make mistakes, signing players to contracts they do not deserve or committing to money that will ultimately be damaging. No team is exempt, and while few have as bad a track record as the New York Knicks, every team is guilty of signing bad free agent contracts.