NEW YORK -- Gilbert Arenas agreed Wednesday to be suspended for the rest of the season, a decision that came after an hour-long meeting with NBA commissioner David Stern, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Arenas, 28, told Stern he would inform the NBA Players Association that it should not appeal the punishment, which will cost him nearly $8 million in salary.
The Washington Post first reported the agreement between Stern and Arenas, who was accompanied by his criminal defense attorney, Ken Wainstein, but not by any representatives from the players association. There was no confirmation from the union or the league, although both were said to be preparing statements to be released later Wednesday.
Arenas arrived in New York shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday and went straight to the NBA offices on Fifth Avenue, where Stern had been waiting to speak with him before rendering his decision. According to a source, it was the first time Arenas had spoken with league officials about the Dec. 21 dispute with teammate Javaris Crittenton, which plunged the league into another image crisis.
Another hurdle was cleared Monday, when Crittenton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge stemming from his dispute with Arenas in the Wizards locker room on Dec. 21. Arenas previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of carrying a pistol without a license and will be sentenced March 26. Crittenton met with Stern on Tuesday and also faces a fine and/or suspension.
Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Stern has the latitude to suspend players guilty of firearms violations for any definite or indefinite period and fine them up to $50,000. In recent weeks, according to a source, there has been discussion about immediately revising the collective bargaining agreement to set forth specific penalties for bringing firearms on league property, but as of Wednesday afternoon an agreement had not yet been reached.
Arenas' decision to accept a suspension for the balance of the season means he will miss a total of 48 games. It is the third-longest non-drug related suspension in NBA history, following Ron Artest (73) and Latrell Sprewell (68). Under provisions that call for him to forfeit 1/110th of his $16.2 million salary, Arenas' lost income will be $7,065,634.
Arenas, whose relationship with most members of the Wizards' hierarchy is fractured, has been concerned that the team would seek to void the remaining four years and $81 million on his contract. The team has, to this point, shown no inclination to take such a drastic step, which would face a formidable legal challenge. In his initial suspension letter to Arenas when he suspended him indefinitely on Jan. 7, Stern said his punishment was irrespective of any discipline the team chose to impose. But the collective bargaining agreement contains strong language protecting players from being sanctioned by the league and their team for the same offense.
One legal fight that Arenas has avoided is a potential grievance based on his suspension. By agreeing to tell the players' association not to appeal, there will be no need for an arbitrator to rule on whether Arenas bringing guns to the Verizon Center locker room constituted an on-court or off-court offense. Suspensions in excess of 12 games for on-court offenses can be appealed to a grievance arbitrator; for all other matters, Stern is the arbitrator.