Thursday, February 18, 2010
Updated: February 20, 12:01 PM ET
Grunfeld: 'He's going to be with us'
WASHINGTON -- Gilbert Arenas is the only member of the Big Three still in Washington and when he might be available to play for the Wizards again is uncertain.
But when Agent Zero returns to the NBA, Washington team president Ernie Grunfeld expects it to be with the Wizards.
"He's under contract and he's going to be with us," Grunfeld said. "He's part of the organization. If he wants to play, he's going to play here."
First, however, Arenas has to find out if he's going to jail.
Arenas pleaded guilty last month to a felony gun charge and is scheduled to be sentenced March 26.
Grunfeld negotiated a six-year, $111 million contract extension with Arenas in July 2008. Arenas was coming off two left knee surgeries and had played in only 13 games in the 2007-08 season. He underwent a third surgery in September 2008, and despite vowing a quick return, played just two games last season.
Arenas averaged 22.6 points in 32 games for the Wizards before he was suspended for the rest of the season last month by NBA commissioner David Stern for bringing a gun into the locker room.
Arenas negotiated the contract without an agent, and since the suspension there was talk that his once close relationship with Grunfeld was damaged beyond repair.
When asked about the relationship, Grunfeld said tersely: "It's fine."
Arenas isn't allowed to work out in the Wizards' facility, but Grunfeld says the team's trainers are working with him.
"He's part of this organization and he's under contract and if he wants to play, this is the place where he's going to play," Grunfeld said.
"Gilbert's a basketball player, that's what he likes to do, that's his life and obviously this is a tough situation for him. It's a tough situation for everybody and I think we all feel for him because he loves to play the game so much and this is something that he really misses. Nobody wants to see anybody go through something like this, but during the summertime we're going to sit and I know he's going to work very hard to be the best player he can possibly be."
In the past week, Grunfeld traded Caron Butler to Dallas and Antawn Jamison to Cleveland.
Grunfeld has repeatedly said the team had grown stale and needed to go in a different direction.
Grunfeld was asked if he bore responsibility for the team's lackluster performance. After a win on Wednesday over Minnesota, the Wizards are 18-33.
"I don't know what happened from that standpoint. I think everybody thought we had a very solid team going into this season," Grunfeld said.
Grunfeld's Big Three are history and struggled to bring wins to the team.
"I think that was an entertaining ball club. I think the city enjoyed these players," Grunfeld said. "It happened quickly, in our second year here we went to the playoffs and we went to the second round. And then we added Caron the following summer, and I think that they were an entertaining group. They were good guys."