An NBA investigation into Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas'(notes) possession of guns inside the team's locker room has been linked to a confrontation with teammate Javaris Crittenton(notes), multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The league's ongoing probe hopes to determine whether Arenas had accessed any of his unloaded firearms while engaged in the dispute prior to a team practice at the Verizon Center on Dec. 21 in Washington. Tensions between Arenas and Crittenton escalated because of a festering disagreement between the two players, sources said.
Arenas told reporters on Tuesday the District of Columbia police also are investigating the circumstances under which he brought the guns to the arena. The D.C. police issued a statement on Wednesday saying they were assisting the U.S. Attorney's Office in a joint investigation into "an allegation that weapons were located inside a locker room at the Verizon Center." The statement did not name any individuals.
The district has stringent gun laws that prohibit the carrying of weapons, openly or concealed.
The NBA is expected to wait to see if the law enforcement agencies file charges before the league acts. NBA security has been working with the Wizards to investigate the matter. Team officials had immediately reported the incident to the league office, and have been cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
Several league sources believe NBA commissioner David Stern ultimately will mete out stiff penalties in the matter. Both Arenas and Crittenton could be subject to suspensions and fines.
After CBSSports.com broke the story of the league's investigation into Arenas' gun possession on Dec. 24, the Wizards issued a statement saying Arenas had stored three unloaded firearms in a locked box inside his Verizon Center locker. Arenas has said he removed the guns from his home to keep them away from his three young children.
When asked by reporters Tuesday night whether he had showed his weapons to anyone in the locker room, Arenas said, "Yes, I showed them to someone. I showed them to team security when I handed them to them and said give them to the police. Yes, I took them out of this locker room. I had to take them out to get them out of here to give to security."
Arenas said the investigation began two weeks ago. "They just wanted to know where I got [the guns] from," he said, "and make sure they're not dirty guns."
Arenas, who turns 28 next week, is a three-time All-Star and is in the second season of a six-year, $111 million contract with the Wizards.
Crittenton, who turned 23 Thursday, hasn't played this season for the Wizards, rehabbing from preseason foot surgery. He was the 19th pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of Georgia Tech and played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies before being traded to Washington early last season.
This investigation has been yet another blow to what the Wizards had hoped would be a renaissance season. So far, disharmony has reigned in the Wizards' 10-20 start. The locker room has been marred with friction between Arenas and the coaching staff and players. Arenas had missed most of the past two seasons with injuries, and his return had raised expectations the Wizards would be strong playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference again.
The Wizards are active in trade talks with multiple teams, league sources said, and willing to trade any player on their roster.
Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears contributed to this report.