Many here will jump at the implication from Ivan's latest blog post, and I don't totally blame you. If you believe the esteemed beat writer, Ernie Grunfeld is going to throw a big deal (max?) at Gilbert Arenas on the first day of free agency. At the very least, they don't plan on doing any negotiation.
Now here's the deal: free agency is going to open July 1 and everything I'm hearing indicates that the Wizards are going to jump out with a major offer ASAP. The team knows that Gilbert is going to leave for a trip to China that day as part of a promotional tour for Adidas and Ernie Grunfeld and company understand better than anyone how flighty the Agent can be. They want to lock him up quickly and then move on to the next order of business which is taking care of Antawn Jamison.
If the process drags out, the chances of Gilbert doing something impulsive (like flipping a coin and deciding to take the mid-level from the Lakers just to be different) increases dramatically.
Alright, hold on a second.
I know Gilbert Arenas is crazy. I know he allegedly flipped a coin to decide between the Wizards and the Clippers in 2003. I know he's even talked about signing for less money so there's room for Antawn Jamison. I know he's from Los Angeles.
But none of that means that he's stupid enough to forego 70 to 80 million dollars just to do "something impulsive." This whole "sign for the mid-level" thing really needs to stop (and I'm not blaming Ivan, he's not the only one). It's not going to happen. Moreover, Gilbert isn't going to accept way less money just to return to Los Angeles. Remember, he could have signed with the Clippers in 2003, but didn't.
The point is that I severely doubt that Gilbert really bolts to another team if Ernie Grunfeld waits to work things out until after he returns from China. Maybe he listens to the Clippers, and maybe Philadelphia will offer their best, but neither of those offers can ever be the best offer.
As such, I'm wondering why the Wizards are in such a rush. Should you sign him quickly? Sure. Should you offer a max contract right because he might do something stupid? Absolutely not.
Negotiation is extremely important here. Ernie needs to approach this like he approached the DeShawn Stevenson negotiations (though he should probably be a little closer to Gilbert's desired contract). Offer something like 6 years at 14-million per right off the bat, and if Gilbert doesn't go for it, slowly up the offer until you meet somewhere in the middle. Nobody will have anywhere near that amount of cap space to sign him outright. If Gilbert really wants to go somewhere else for 10-11 million because he feels "disrespected," then let him do it.
Don't worry. He won't. He's not that dumb. And there'll be plenty of time to simultaneously deal with Antawn Jamison, especially consider how much Gilbert wants him back. They should be treated as a package deal.
Look, if Gilbert agrees to a contract that's similar to Vince Carter's (slightly below max level) on the first day of free agency (just with two more years), I'll be fine with this sense of desperation. Otherwise, it's paranoia at its finest.