It’s much easier to explain why Gilbert wants less money than it is to explain this outfit.
To really understand what Gilbert’s latest comments mean, it’s important to know the unchanging facts about Gilbert before analyzing anything he says:
- Like most people, Gilbert likes money.
- Like some people, Gilbert is a very insecure person.
- Unlike some people, Gilbert would sacrifice money for victory.
- Unlike almost everyone, Gilbert is completely and certifiably crazy.
Taking those known facts, we can start dissecting Gilbert’s revelation that he’s willing to take a “pay cut” in order to ensure that Jamison will stay with the team.
When Gilbert announced that he was opting out, I personally thought the move was more about security than it was about trying to get a max contract. Sure, he wants to get a better deal out of the situation, but coming off knee surgery, I think Gilbert is more concerned about making sure that the Wizards are committed to him and in his mind, there’s no better way to find out than to opt out and see if they want to bring him back. Of course, it didn’t seem like those were his intentions when he wrote this on his blog a few months back:
I want to get a six-year deal. I want to be a max player. If my team decides that they don’t want me here any more and they’re going to go in a different direction, then I got to look elsewhere. For me to look elsewhere, I want to go find a championship team who’s a championship contender. I’m going to have to take less money, but I’m willing to do that to win a ring. If my team doesn’t want me, then I’m going to another team and I’m going to take less money to go there.
Most people probably read those comments and agreed with TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott who had write about Gilbert’s comments:
I’m sure he doesn’t mean it this way, and maybe we’ll have a clarification soon, but it seems like Arenas is saying that he’d play for passion, and to win in some other city. But if he has to play with these scrubs in D.C. …
On the surface, it would seem that way but when you look at Gilbert’s comments later on in the blog, he makes it clear that he’s not just playing a bunch of scrubs in D.C.:
Over the years this team right here has played plenty of teams that we have no chance of winning against and we pulled out the victory. That’s what people don’t understand. They say, “The Wizards are better without me.” No, the Wizards are great. They’re a good team without me. They’re a great team with me. Last year, Eddie Jordan was the All-Star coach. There’s a reason because of that. We were the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. Right now, without me, they’re the third or fourth best team in the Eastern Conference.
Just imagine if you have a solid group like Detroit. If you take Chauncey Billups off the Pistons right now, they’re still going to win games. They’re a great group like us. We’ve been together for three years, four years now … some of us, for all five years. So, we know how to get it done. This is not a young team where you take the best player off of a young team and they go down the toilet. We have two other All-Stars on this team and Brendan is playing like an All-Star center. You have veterans in Daniels, DeShawn, Songaila and Roger Mason who’s been around and he’s hitting shots. Andray Blatche is doing good. Then you have Nick Young who can score like anybody in this league. You put that all together with two All-Stars, and you’re going to be a good team. You’re not supposed to lose games. I don’t think people understand how good we are, with me or without me.
Those are the comments of someone who think his team already has all the pieces in place to be a contender. The reason he said that he’d take a pay cut elsewhere is because he would have to take a pay cut if he signed elsewhere. The only teams that could offer Gilbert top dollar aren’t contenders, so if the Wizards don’t re-sign him he would have to take a lower salary to keep playing with a team that can contend for a title.
His feelings haven’t changed since them. In saying that he would take a pay cut (which is weird to say, because it’s not so much that Gilbert’s taking a pay cut, he’s just settling for less than a max contract) he’s showing what I’ve felt all along: His decision to opt-out was all about finding out if the Wizards still want him around, if they want to give him a max deal, that’s awesome, but he’s not going to let dollars and cents get in the way of re-signing if the Wizards want to keep him and he’s not going to let it get in the way of making sure that he’s playing on a contender.