Contract Negotiation NBA Players Sports Agents

Arenas Has No Agent But Wants More Zeros

Gilberto Wants Some Zeros

Gilbert Arenas may have been the first NBA player to have a popular blog, but he is definitely not the first athlete to represent himself in contractual negotiations with professional teams [Daunte Culpepper Needs Our Help]. Just yesterday, I discussed the negatives of being your own agent in contractual matters with the team that may sign you. Gilbert Arenas, self-dubbed Agent Zero, is another player who has decided to go this route.

I have ridiculous amounts of respect for what Arenas has been able to do to bolster his reputation in a short period of time. He has gone from a player at the University of Arizona who was never supposed to get a minute of playing time (hence the number on his jersey, 0 and his nickname Agent Zero) to a popular guard on the court and an even more popular figure when not playing. He has broken the traditional marketing tactics that many professional athletes employ, creating his own blog, joking around with the media, and speaking to the media as much as possible instead of avoiding the press.

But should he be representing himself in talks with his team? I still say no. Check out yesterday’s post concerning Daunte Culpepper and the links within that post to previous articles about the topic. Gilbert Arenas is a smart, savvy man, but that does not mean that he is best suited to negotiate with the team that he is currently under contract with.

Yesterday, Arenas told two Washington D.C. newspapers that he will not extend his current contract with the Washington Wizards after next season (when he has an option to extend). This may be one instance where Arenas may have hurt certain relationships with his extroverted personality. There really is no reason to even speak of this matter before next season begins, which is something that an agent (other than Agent Zero) may advise against doing. But that’s not even the main issue.

It is definitely a smart business move to opt out of his contract after next season, even if he were to resign with the Washington Wizards. He will make more money this way. But something makes me feel uneasy as a fan and would especially make me feel uneasy as a current teammate of Arenas or owner of the Wizards. It’s when Arenas says to the Washington Post:

“I’m not looking at anything else. It’s just business. If something happens where they don’t want me or they’re going in a different direction, I can look elsewhere. But my intentions are not to leave.” [Arenas Says He Will Opt Out of Deal in ’08]

And then to the Washington Times:

“I’m going to opt out and consider some other teams next year…I want to test the market and test my value.” [Arenas’ call]

It seems like he is saying two different things to two separate newspapers operating in the same market. I also have a tough time reading a player saying those comments that are usually made by one’s agent. Arenas, you are still rehabbing your leg. You say yourself that you are only “Agent” right now, half way back to Agent Zero [What’s Poppin’?]. I have some advice for you. Hire an outside agent to get you all the zeros that you deserve.

-Darren Heitner

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

5 replies on “Arenas Has No Agent But Wants More Zeros”

Personally, I am almost always in favor of athletes not doing the contract negotiations themselves, however I believe that this is one of the very few cases it can work. Arenas is cut from a different cloth and likes to do things his own way in almost every aspect. He is extremely smart and I believe that he can make this work. As a fan or teammate of Arenas, people have learned to take what he says with a pinch of salt. His eccentricity is unprecedented and thus I would not put too much stock into anything he says. He is the heart of soul of the wizards team, and is opting out because he wants more financial security, a smart decision. There is a small chance he leaves the wizards, but they are prepared to offer him a maximum contract and the comfort of not having to move his family anywhere. Even if he sounds like he is sending out mixed messages, as a fan or teammate of Arenas I would not really be worried yet.

[…] About a year ago, I gave my opinion that no matter how business-savvy Gilbert Arenas may be, he was making a mistake by engaging in self-representation. Now Nate Jones of Jones On The NBA agrees that Arenas should hire an agent. Gilbert’s second injury and the evolution of the games of Brendan Haywood and Caron “Tough Juice” Butler has enabled Washington to play around the same level as they were playing with a healthy Gilbert last year (and keep in mind they would probably have an even better record if Caron didn’t miss over a month with his own injury problems). Washington now has the negotiating power. Gilbert has gone through two knee surgeries and his team has learned to play with out him. As well, teams around the league don’t have cap space to compete with Washington and create a bidding war for Gilbert’s services. The only team with cap space that would kind of be an appealing destination for Gilbert is Philadelphia. So if Washington tries to play hardball with Gilbert, and Gilbert doesn’t want to go play in Philadelphia (or Memphis…I don’t see them as an option, that’s why they are locked in this here parenthetical), Gilbert is going to have to seek on a sign and trade with another team. For someone that doesn’t really have negotiating experience, trying to negotiate a sign and trade or even negotiate with a team that thinks they hold all the cards can be a difficult task. […]

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