With the calendar having turned to December 15, Suns forward Trevor Ariza is now officially eligible to be traded. However, it appears the veteran forward won’t be going to the Wizards in a three-team trade that included the Grizzlies and was seemingly on the verge of completion on Friday night.
As we explained in updates to our story on those Ariza trade talks, a deal sending the Suns forward to D.C. was about to cross the finish line when Memphis and Phoenix realized they weren’t on the same page on one of the players involved in the proposal — the Suns thought they were receiving promising young forward Dillon Brooks from the Grizzlies, while Memphis believed journeyman guard MarShon Brooks was the player involved in the deal. With the Grizzlies unwilling to include Dillon and the Suns unwilling to trade for MarShon, the potential swap fell apart.
How exactly does something like this happen? Well, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Grizzlies and Suns never spoke directly during the negotiations, using the Wizards as a conduit. However, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, who is one of the most plugged-in reporters on the Suns’ side, tweets that Phoenix had “multiple conversations” with Memphis over the last 24 hours, and even checked Dillon Brooks‘ medicals.
The Suns never had any discussions about MarShon Brooks with either team, according to Gambadoro, who strongly suggests (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies appear to be the team at fault here.
Conversely, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic (via Twitter), the Grizzlies say they “never” discussed Dillon Brooks with anyone and were always talking about MarShon Brooks, adding that they’re “at a loss” to understand the mix-up. However, Wojnarowski tweets that the Wizards believed in conversations with Memphis that they were talking about Dillon.
As Howard Beck of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter), in the days before details of potential deals leaked immediately to Twitter, this is the sort of mix-up that would have killed a trade well before word broke publicly. Given how today’s media landscape works though, we learned about the failed deal in real time, rather than seeing it reported as a humorous “what-if” anecdote months or years later.
The ramifications of today’s drama shouldn’t be overlooked — Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers will presumably remain Wizards, knowing that their team had reached an agreement to trade them. It’ll be interesting to see if that has an impact on them going forward, or if Washington is motivated to work out a new deal to move them to avoid locker-room discomfort.
In Memphis, MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden are in the same boat. According to Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian (via Twitter), both players were told when leaving the floor tonight that they were being traded, but they’ll report back to the Grizzlies tomorrow.
Meanwhile, before the Brooks-related drama reached its climax -when it still appeared the deal would get done – an interesting detail was reported about Ariza. A source told David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Suns owner Robert Sarver was adamantly opposed to sending the 33-year-old to the Lakers, prompting Phoenix’s front office to pivot to other options. Will Sarver stick to that stance now that today’s deal fell through? Can we essentially rule the Lakers out of the Ariza sweepstakes going forward?
Today’s failed deal also provides a hint of what sort of return the Suns are looking for in exchange for Ariza. Gambadoro tweets that the deal was all about Dillon Brooks for Phoenix, rather than Rivers or Selden. So despite their depth on the wing and their need for a point guard, the Suns appear willing to move Ariza for a promising young player at any position — not just one who fills a position of need.
The Wizards and Suns could still try to find a third team to make an Ariza deal work, with potential trade partners knowing now that Oubre could be had. Of course, reports earlier this week suggested that at least eight teams had expressed some interest in Ariza, and now that we have a sense of what it might take to get him, perhaps some new opportunities will open up for the Suns.
It’s not even out of the realm of possibility that these three teams revisit the framework of today’s deal in an effort to find a compromise, according to Aldridge, who notes (via Twitter) that one source said Sarver and Grizzlies owner Robert Pera talked to each other and discussed Dillon Brooks. In a follow-up tweet, Aldridge notes that Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace strongly denies that Sarver and Pera spoke about this proposed trade.
Whatever happens next, tonight’s Ariza/Brooks drama is just the latest reminder of why the NBA’s rumor mill is so much fun.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.