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Thursday, January 14, 2010
New Column on Gilbert Arenas being charged with a felony and impact of a potential plea deal on his NBA career

I have a new column on Gilbert Arenas being charged with a felony and the potential impact of a plea deal on his NBA career. Here's an excerpt:

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The Wizards would not have history on their side if they sought to use Clause 16 against Arenas, as it has seldom been employed to void NBA contracts. One unsuccessful attempt was in 1997, when the Golden State Warriors terminated the contract of Latrell Sprewell after he choked his coach, P.J. Carlesimo. On behalf of Sprewell, and consistent with the collective bargaining agreement, the players association filed a grievance. The grievance was heard by an independent arbitrator, Fordham University School of Law dean John Feerick, who reinstated Sprewell's contract on grounds that the Warriors lacked just cause in utilizing Clause 16. Feerick's decision suggests that the Wizards would have the odds stacked against them: If chocking a coach can't get a contract voided under Clause 16, would possessing unloaded guns do so?

Another attempt by an NBA team to void a contract occurred in 2004, when the Boston Celtics tried to terminate Vin Baker's contract. They did so after Baker, who battled problems with alcohol, failed to keep himself in adequate condition. The Celtics, however, never explicitly signaled their grounds for attempting to void Baker's contract, though Clause 16, which also requires that a player keep himself in first class physical condition, was a likely source. The Celtics-Baker situation was different from the Arenas-Wizards situation in a number of ways, since it concerned substance abuse and the Celtics attempted to void Baker's contract only after repeatedly disciplining Baker. Ultimately the Celtics and Bakers worked out an agreement whereby Baker reportedly received $16 million of the remaining $35 million on his contract.

It's possible that the Wizards could work out a similar buyout with Arenas, though expect the players' association to strongly oppose Arenas agreeing to any buyout. The players' association would be worried that teams would attempt to force buyouts with other players if the Wizards succeeded in doing so with Arenas.

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Regardless of the Wizards' efforts to void Arenas' contract, he may eventually have a chance to return to the NBA. But in order to reach that point, he'll have to do his time, and it certainly wouldn't hurt for him to follow Michael Vick's example and find a mentor to help keep him on the straight and narrow. You can find out more about what he must do to rehabilite his image on Bulletproof Blog:

Anonymous Bulletproof Blog -- 1/15/2010 5:19 PM  

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