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Allan Houston Rule could become the Gilbert Arenas Rule

Oct 9, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

Washington Wizards v Chicago Bulls

Rashard Lewis is talked about as the poster child for bad contracts. But Lewis is a willing defender, can hit from the outside, and was very productive for most of his contract. So when talk of the so-called amnesty clause came up recently in NBA discussions, it wasn’t Lewis whose name was linked. It was a Hibachi-grilled issue.

From the New York Daily News:

So it was not surprising that when an amnesty clause was discussed between owners and players – a salary-cap lifeline for teams looking to shed a terrible contract – Arenas was viewed as the poster child for such a provision. Although he still doesn’t turn 30 until this coming January, who would want to pay him in excess of $19 million this coming season, almost $21 million next season and $22 million for 2013-14? Probably not his own team, for starters.

In these negotiations, which have broken down indefinitely over the money split, Arenas has taken the place of Allan Houston, whose name was linked to a similar clause in the previous collective bargaining agreement. Once suspended 50 games for his illegal and reckless use of guns with Javaris Crittenton, Arenas has replaced Houston as the face of bad contracts.

via NBA lockout negotiations to pick up with Gilbert Arenas-contract spurred amnesty clause.

Arenas represents so much about this conflict, actually. His injuries caused his value to plummet before his contract worth. His antics with firearms damaged the team’s reputation. His attitude stands as the kind of thing the owners are repulsed by. And that contract is an albatross.

I’ve long wondered what Ted Leonsis’ role in the lockout has been. After all, he’s one of the so-called “hockey owners’ who saw the benefits of missing a season in order to trample the union under-foot. And he saw the damage those contracts can do as a new owner, with Arenas shackled to his team before having to trade for Lewis just to get rid of him. He didn’t ask for Arenas, he was given him.(He did give Andray Blatche his contract, by the way.)

Consider these quotes from 2010 when Leonsis spoke at a business meeting. He was later fined $100,000 for his comments. This is before any substantial negotiations had begun (because they didn’t start serious negotiations until June, but whatever).

“In a salary-cap era — and soon a hard-salary cap in the NBA like it is in the NHL — if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, it’s the small nuanced differences that matter,” he said.

Asked after the speech to clarify his remarks, Leonsis pulled back from the comment, saying he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing NBA labor negotiations, but said he believed the NHL’s system “is a good one.”

“It’s working,” he said. “The teams are very, very competitive. There is no way that big markets teams can outspend small market teams. So when the season starts everyone thinks their team can compete for the Stanley Cup.”

via Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis expects NBA to adopt hard salary cap – ESPN.

Are the Wizards the microcosm of the lockout? Are they the center of the dispute, with a hard-line owner who was shackled with a terrible contract he couldn’t get rid of, his first experience with the team dealing with the fallout from Arenas’ nonsense?

And if that’s the case, what does that say about this being a big market vs. small market issue?

Side note: If it does become the Arenas Rule, can we please call it either “The Hibachi Element” or “Agent Zeroing?”

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