Trevor Ariza

Wizards Notes: Wall, Beal, Morris, Satoransky

The Wizards have three options now that John Wall has decided to undergo heel surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the season, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. The most drastic choice, a complete renovation that would include trading All-Star guard Bradley Beal, appears to be the least likely, according to Katz. He states that teams have already called about Beal, but the Wizards haven’t shown any interest in moving him. Otto Porter could be the biggest name the front office is willing to part with.

If Washington opts to tank this season, Katz says the team already has an example from what the Grizzlies did last year. Memphis got rid of some of its marginal talent, endured a losing season and wound up with the fourth pick in the draft. The Wizards are only about $5MM above the tax line and may want to add draft choices after trading away selections in the Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith deals. The Lakers may still be interested in Trevor Ariza, who has a $15MM expiring contract, and Markieff Morris‘ expiring $8.6MM deal could also be in play. Jeff Green, who is playing for the veterans minimum, could easily be moved into a trade exception.

The most likely direction, Katz adds, is to keep the current group of players together and see if they can make a run at the playoffs. Washington is 4.8 points per 100 possessions worse with Wall on the court this year and 11.4 points per 100 possessions worse over the past 25 games, so his absence may not be that difficult to overcome.

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • Washington played well enough without Wall late last season to earn a playoff spot, but Ben Golliver of The Washington Post argues that tanking is the best long-term strategy. His advice is to reduce the workload for Beal, who is averaging 36.6 minutes per game, and unload as many veterans as possible.
  • Morris will see a specialist for a lingering neck injury, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Morris has been experiencing pain in his neck and upper back since being hit with an elbow in a December 16 game. Although he sat out two games this weekend, Morris remains optimistic about his prognosis. “It’s something where I think if it required surgery, they would have told me already,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that deep. I hope it’s not that deep.”
  • Wall’s absence will create more playing time for third-year guard Tomas Satoransky, who had 20 points in last night’s win over Charlotte. “Tomas is going to get a great opportunity,” coach Scott Brooks said in a tweet from the team. “He’s going to be more comfortable as the games go by. I think Tomas is going to excel in this. He’s ready for this. He had some moments last season that he saved our season.”

“Open Season” On Wizards’ Roster

John Wall‘s likely decision to undergo season-ending ankle surgery has created a sense of urgency in Washington to shake up the roster, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports.

The Wizards have backed off the trade market in recent weeks as they inched closer to playoff contention, sitting four and a half games out of the eighth spot with a 13-23 record. However, the prospect of finishing the season without Wall seems to sink any hope for the postseason.

“They can’t move Wall now. Way too hard,” a rival executive tells Smith.(Ian) Mahinmi? Why pay to move him either? (Bradley) Beal and (Otto) Porter? Sure, in the right deal. (Markieff) Morris, (Jeff) Green, maybe even flip (Trevor) Ariza again? Those guys are all easily moved. It’s open season on that roster now.”

Another unidentified front office member described Washington’s dire situation by saying, “They’ve got to move on from Beal or Porter now, just to clear up the cap some. Vultures are starting to circle.” (Twitter link)

Without at least one move to clear salary, the Wizards will add luxury tax payments to an extremely disappointing season. Washington projects to be about $5MM above the $123.733MM tax line and is in danger of being in the same spot next year.

Wall is currently third on the team in salary at about $19.17MM, but that number will balloon next season when his four-year, $170MM extension kicks in. His injury, on top of that contract, makes him virtually untradable.

Porter will earn $26MM this year, $27.25MM in 2019/20 and has a nearly $28.5MM player option for the following season that he seems certain to exercise. Porter’s production hasn’t matched his potential since being given a rookie scale extension, and the Wizards might have to attach another asset to get a team to accept his contract.

Beal, who is coming off an All-Star season and posting a career-high 23.8 PPG scoring average, would probably fetch the best return. But the Wizards have to decide whether they want to part with a core piece who is under contract for about $55.8MM over the next two years.

Another possibility is to trade away Ariza, who was acquired from the Suns earlier this month to boost Washington’s playoff chances. Ariza has an expiring $15MM contract, but he cannot be aggregated, meaning traded along with teammates in the same deal, which could limit the Wizards’ options.

Washington is eligible to apply for a Disabled Player Exception if Wall is lost for the year, Smith adds (Twitter link). If approved, the franchise would have $8.641MM to work with that could be used to sign, trade for or claim a player off waivers. The Wizards would have to apply by January 15 and use it by March 10, and any roster addition will count against the tax.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southeast Division:

Jeremy Lin, Hawks, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $38.3MM deal in 2016
Lin suffered a season-ending knee injury last October with Brooklyn. He’s bounced back impressively as the backup point guard in Atlanta. He’s averaging 10.9 PPG and 3.2 APG in 18.5 MPG while posting an above-average PER. For a contender looking to fill the same spot, Lin would be a viable option prior to the trade deadline. He’ll have to accept a lower salary with his next contract but he shouldn’t have too much trouble finding work in July.

Frank Kaminsky, Hornets, 25, PF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $11.8MM deal in 2015
Far removed from leading Wisconsin to the 2015 national championship, Kaminsky continues to disappoint as a pro. Under former coach Steve Clifford, Kaminsky was a steady presence in the rotation. First-year James Borrego has buried Kaminsky so deep on the bench that the stretch four hasn’t played the last three games. Kaminsky could be a restricted free agent if the Hornets extend a $4.9MM qualifying option but that’s not happening. He’ll be looking to hit the reset button in July.

Rodney McGruder, Heat, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder has started regularly for the Heat this season but that might not last much longer. He’s averaged 5.2 points in his last five outings while shooting 27.6 percent from the field. His PER is well below average. In McGruder’s favor is his team-friendly contract. He’ll be a restricted free agent if the Heat extend a $1.93MM qualifying offer. Whether he receives it will likely depend on how much cap space Pat Riley wants to open up.

Nikola Vucevic, Magic, 28, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $53MM deal in 2015
Orlando has some young, athletic bigs but Vucevic is so productive, he’s maintained his minutes under new coach Steve Clifford. The veteran big man is averaging a career-high 20.8 PPG, 11.8 RPG and 3.6 APG. Like many 7-footers his age, Vucevic came into the league as mainly a low post player but has extended his range beyond the arc. He’s made 39% of his attempts this season. Currently ranked No. 10 in our Free Agent Power Rankings, Vucevic should be a nice consolation prize for a team with significant cap space that strikes out pursuing the biggest names on the market.

Trevor Ariza, Wizards, 33, SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2018
Phoenix quickly moved Ariza to a team fighting for a playoff spot after giving him a nice one-year payday over the summer. The Wizards are just 1-4 since acquiring Ariza but what’s more significant is how many teams inquired about him before the trade. He reportedly drew interest from at least eight clubs. His 3-and-D skills remain in high demand and he should be able to land at least one more big-money contract before he retires.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Suns’ James Jones Talks Rivers, Ariza, Oubre, PGs

League executives were puzzled by the Suns‘ decision to waive both Tyson Chandler and Austin Rivers so early in the season, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. As Windhorst observes, even though the Suns may be tanking and weren’t interested in taking on multiyear money, parting ways with Chandler and Rivers – who were both on expiring contracts – closes the door on possible trade opportunities at the deadline.

In a discussion with Gina Mizell of The Athletic, interim co-general manager James Jones indirectly addressed those criticisms, explaining that Phoenix wants to do right by players. “We should be a place where every party, everyone involved, feels invested and feels connected,” Jones said. In the case of Rivers, Jones said that the team and Rivers’ camp mutually agreed that it “would be best if he found an opportunity that fit him better.”

Jones also weighed in on a handful of other subjects during conversations with Mizell and Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, so we’ll round up some of his most noteworthy comments here:

On whether it was true that team owner Robert Sarver wouldn’t allow Trevor Ariza to be sent to the Lakers:

“No. Throughout all of this, Robert has been adamant that his focus is on what helps the Suns grow and be the best. That was inaccurate. Actually, if something could have worked out, Robert would have been a huge proponent, just because of that investment and understanding that Trevor and his family are (based) on the West Coast. If we can do right for both parties, it should make sense. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t do something that benefits both parties.”

On what he expects Kelly Oubre to bring to the Suns:

“Exactly what he’s demonstrated in the past. He’s young, but he’s experienced. He’s played in a lot of games. He’s played in the playoffs. He’s had tremendous success against some of the best players in the Eastern Conference, some of the best players in the NBA as a whole. His athleticism, his activity, just his competitiveness is something that, as we look at building the identity of this team, those are the foundational characteristics of all the players that we target. Do they play hard? Do they compete? Are they selfless? Do they sacrifice to win? He embodies that, and that’s why we’re excited to have him.”

On what happened with last Friday’s failed three-team trade involving the Wizards and Grizzlies:

“I’ll leave it as just a miscommunication. Going forward, we’re excited to have Kelly. Through everything, we have Kelly. We have a guy we know fits with us and we’re excited about.”

On the Suns’ ongoing search for an answer at point guard:

“For us, as free agency hit (during the 2018 offseason), you talk about that tier of starting caliber point guards, they chose other destinations that were a better fit and better suited to compete right now. As far as trades, I always say it takes two to tango. That’s not something you can control.

“For us at that position, we need someone who will compete defensively, can be impactful and can play well off our other perimeters… [De’Anthony Melton]’s been doing that and we’ll keep pushing him to get better.”

Wizards Notes: Ariza, Oubre, Dekker, Porter

Suns guard Devin Booker referred to Trevor Ariza as a player who was “loved in the locker room” in Phoenix, but the club’s slow start to the season took a toll on the veteran forward — sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that Ariza “checked out mentally” early in the 2018/19 campaign. The decision to trade him was a mutual one made by the Suns and Ariza’s camp, Rankin adds.

Ariza, who is joining the Wizards for the second time in his career, will be thrown into the fire right away by his new team — he’ll be in Washington’s starting lineup on Tuesday night, head coach Scott Brooks said today (Twitter link via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post).

As Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington observes, Ariza primarily came off the bench during his first season in D.C. back in 2012/13, but he has started every game since then, so it’s no surprise that he’ll slot right into the starting five for the Wizards. His old teammates are looking forward to playing alongside him again, as Standig relays.

“It’s always great to add a guy like Trevor back, one of the best veterans and teammates I had,” John Wall said. “We know what he brings to the table.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • In an article for NBC Sports Washington, Chase Hughes explores whether the Wizards got enough for Kelly Oubre after spending several years developing him. Within the piece, a source tells Hughes that Oubre and the Wizards never got very close to reaching a deal on a contract extension during the offseason.
  • Sam Dekker is turning out to not just be a throw-in in a trade that saved the Wizards some money — the veteran forward has earned regular minutes in Washington’s rotation during his first week and a half with his new team, as Ben Standig details for NBC Sports Washington. “He cuts to the basket, he moves the ball, he plays hard, he brings energy, he plays with the proper respect for the game,” head coach Scott Brooks said of Dekker. “That is what I love about him, he always seems to be prepared. He doesn’t have to turn the switch on, it’s on.”
  • Otto Porter was diagnosed with a Grade II strain of his right vastus medialis, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link), who explains that the vastus medialis is part of the quadriceps muscle group. Porter will likely sit out until next week, Buckner reports.
  • Earlier today, the Wizards finalized their signing of Chasson Randle and we took a closer look at the timing of that move.

O’Connor’s Latest: Ariza, Suns, Lakers, Love, Knicks

Earlier this morning, we relayed a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggesting that the Jazz are among the teams with interest in Bulls forward Jabari Parker. O’Connor’s full article for The Ringer includes a number of other interesting tidbits worth passing along, so we’ll round up some of the highlights in the space below…

  • Many NBA executives expect it to be a quiet trade season in 2018/19, since there will be a ton of buyers and the sellers don’t have all that many attractive trade assets, says O’Connor.
  • After Friday’s three-team Trevor Ariza trade fell apart, the Lakers jumped back in by offering Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a second-round pick, but the Suns wanted a young player – likely Josh Hart – instead of the draft pick, according to O’Connor. The Lakers, as previously reported, refused to include Hart or any of their other top prospects.
  • One of the other variations of an Ariza deal that was discussed before the Suns sent him to the Wizards featured the Rockets and Hawks, league sources tell O’Connor. In that scenario, Ariza would have gone to the Lakers and the Rockets would have acquired Caldwell-Pope. The Suns would have received Jeremy Lin and an additional asset, while the Hawks got Brandon Knight and a first-round pick.
  • Reports have suggested that the Cavaliers don’t plan to trade Kevin Love unless they’re blown away by an offer. Even if that stance changes, front office executives don’t expect Cleveland to receive any viable offers for Love unless the big man looks healthy and productive before the deadline, O’Connor writes.
  • The Knicks‘ clearest path to a maximum-salary slot for the 2019 offseason would involve trading Courtney Lee or Tim Hardaway Jr. However, according to O’Connor, front office sources believe New York would need to attach an asset in order to move either player without taking back multiyear salary.

Suns Trade Ariza To Wizards For Oubre, Rivers

DECEMBER 17: The trade is now official, with both the Suns and Wizards issuing press releases to confirm the move.

DECEMBER 15: After a hectic Friday night in which a three-team deal was scrapped, the Suns have agreed to deal Trevor Ariza to the Wizards in exchange for Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 reports (Twitter link). The trade call with the league is scheduled for later today, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Last night’s nearly completed deal would have sent Ariza to the Wizards, Rivers to the Suns and allowed the Grizzlies to acquire Oubre for Wayne Selden, two second-round picks, and one other player. The confusion came over the identity of that other player as the Grizzlies believed they were dealing MarShon Brooks while the Suns thought Dillon Brooks was headed their way.

As we relayed in a separate story, despite the nixed deal, Phoenix and Washington remained in touch to see if an Ariza trade could be completed.

This version of an Ariza trade includes three players in the final year of their respective deals.  For Ariza, the trade means the end of a brief 26-game stint in Phoenix as he signed a one-year, $15MM deal with the Suns during the 2018 offseason. Ariza averaged 9.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and a .379/.360/.837 shooting line for the Suns.

This marks a homecoming of sorts for Ariza as he spent two seasons with the Wizards, including perhaps his best season as a pro in 2013/14, when he averaged 14.4 PPG and 6.2 RPG with a .456/.407/.772 shooting line. Prior to this trade, we had relayed at least eight teams had expressed interest in Ariza, including the Lakers and Rockets — two teams he had previously suited up for.

During his stint in the nation’s capital, Ariza was reportedly a respected presence who, among other things, had a good impact on the team’s All-Star point guard, John Wall. At 11-18, the Wizards are 2.5 games back of the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed and will hope Ariza’s 3-and-D ability can narrow the gap.

For the NBA-worst Suns, they acquired a pair of useful assets that could possibly be used as trade chips later in the season. Rivers, 26, has been a mainstay off the Wizards’ bench, averaging 7.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG for Washington. Rivers’ shooting has taken a hit this season as his field-goal percentage (39.2%) and three-point shooting (31.1%) are his worst in several seasons.

As for Oubre, 23, he averaged a career-high 12.9 PPG in 29 games (seven starts) for the Wizards. By trading Oubre, the Wizards will create a traded player exception worth his salary ($3,208,630). Washington already had four trade exceptions, including one worth $5.45MM, as our list of outstanding TPEs shows.

Oubre is set to hit restricted free agency this upcoming summer, at which point the Suns could tender him a $4.5MM qualifying offer, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes. Phoenix could flip Oubre before the trade deadline but cannot aggregate him with another player for salary-matching purposes.

Once the deal is completed, the Wizards’ roster will dip below the requirement of 14. Washington will need to sign another player within two weeks to get their roster count back up to the minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rockets Notes: House, Ariza, LeBron

As the Rockets got off to a rough start, a big issue plaguing the team was a lack of depth, especially on the wing. With Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute departing in the offseason and Carmelo Anthony deemed too much of a negative to be part of the rotation, the Rockets were left with James Ennis and not much else.

That is where the emergence of Danuel House comes into play. As Jonathan Feigen writes for The Houston Chronicle, House has stepped up in recent games and provided a much-needed lift for the Rockets. House insists he is focused on hitting shots, playing solid defense and providing energy off the bench, especially as Ennis recently went down with an injury and Eric Gordon has been inserted into the starting lineup.

The Rockets have started to turn things around in recent games, with House providing an unexpected jolt off the bench just when the team needed one.

There’s more from the Rockets:

  • The Rockets have surely missed Ariza’s presence and leadership, which Tania Ganguli details for The Los Angeles Times. Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker are quoted on the value that Ariza can bring to a locker room, especially on the Rockets team that had high aspirations last season.
  • A brief but flashy storyline in the offseason was the potential that LeBron James would join his friend Chris Paul and defending MVP James Harden in Houston to form a new super team. Of course, that never happened and Dave McMenamin of ESPN reveals (via Twitter) that James didn’t give much thought to actually joining the Rockets.
  • The Rockets recently emerged as a potential suitor for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the 25-year-old shooting guard from the Lakers. Caldwell-Pope can provide defense and 3-point shooting, which the Rockets could use more of moving forward.

Wizards Notes: Ariza, Oubre, Rivers, Wall

Trading for Trevor Ariza is a short-sighted move that offers false hope to Wizards fans, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Washington makes a similar move nearly every season, Ziller notes, adding veteran players who are supposed to be difference makers, but the team has won just three playoff series since John Wall arrived.

The addition of Ariza, in a deal expected to be completed tomorrow, seems almost certain to be a short-term move. His contract expires at the end of the season, Washington doesn’t acquire his Bird Rights because he’s on a one-year deal and the team already projects to be over the cap for 2019/20.

The Wizards wanted to unload Kelly Oubre, who is being shipped to Phoenix, before he hit restricted free agency next summer. But Ziller blasts that thought process as well, contending the team would have been better off taking its chances that Oubre wouldn’t get an offer that’s too expensive to match. As it stands, Washington will probably enter next season without Ariza, Oubre or anything else to show from this weekend’s trade.

There’s more from the nation’s capital:

  • Players were left in disbelief after the bizarre circumstances of Friday’s canceled trade, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Oubre and Austin Rivers learned they were being dealt Friday night, then found out the deal collapsed before it was revived in a different form Saturday morning. “It was kind of weird and kind of difficult,” Wall said. “[We] go into the locker room and we’re about to shower and stuff and we don’t understand who is about to get traded, who’s been traded. It was kind of a tough situation. I give those guys a lot of credit. They handled that stuff like professionals. A lot of guys could have reacted in different ways, which I have seen in the past.”
  • Wall understands the financial component of the deal and why the team wasn’t optimistic about keeping Oubre, Hughes adds in the same piece. Washington has the sixth-highest payroll in the league and is facing a significant luxury tax payment. The team has made three trades already this season and has saved money on each one. “We have three guys that are paid pretty high,” Wall said. “And then understanding what Kelly is going to receive or ask for this summer, I don’t think we have the money to match it. So, I think that’s the reason why we made that trade.”
  • The Wizards sent $500K to the Bucks in last week’s deal that brought in Sam Dekker for Jason Smith, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Grizzlies GM Speaks Out On Failed Trade

The Suns traded Trevor Ariza to the Wizards this morning without any involvement from the Grizzlies after last night’s three-team deal collapsed because of confusion over whether Dillon Brooks or MarShon Brooks was being sent to Phoenix.

Memphis GM Chris Wallace spoke to reporters today about the drama and denied that his team had any role in making the Suns think they were getting Dillon instead of MarShon, writes Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian.

“We were very clear about who was in the trade,” Wallace said. “Contrary to reports, it was not Dillon Brooks. It put us in a very difficult situation with our players when individuals from one or both of those teams leaked the deal while we were playing last night. That forced me to do something I’ve never done in 30 years in this league working for seven teams: To drag two players out of the locker room to tell them they’d been traded and then come back and tell them, no, you haven’t been traded.”

The proposed deal would have sent Ariza to Washington, Kelly Oubre to Memphis and Austin Rivers, Wayne Selden and Brooks — either Dillon or MarShon — to Phoenix. It’s obvious why the Suns would prefer the 22-year-old Dillon Brooks, who was a second-round draft pick in 2017 and is coming off a promising rookie season. MarShon Brooks, 29, is with his fifth NBA franchise and was out of the league for more than three years before Memphis signed him last season.

The trade was virtually finalized before the Grizzlies and Suns realized they were talking about different players, which Wallace admits was an unprecedented turn of events.

“”Fortunately MarShon and Wayne are pros and after I explained it to them they’re both OK with the situation and we’re all moving forward,” Wallace said. “But what happened last night was unfathomable. From our standpoint, and we made this very clear, it was not Dillon Brooks.”

Wallace believes much of the confusion came about because the Grizzlies and Wizards were both occupied with games. News of the deal leaked before those games concluded, which may help to explain the contradictory reports. Herrington notes that original reports had Dillon Brooks as part of the deal, so it’s unlikely they came from Memphis.

Wallace explained that the trade began to come together Thursday afternoon, but most of the work was done Friday through “multiple discussions” with Washington. He adds that the three teams could probably have worked out the confusion behind the scenes if news of the deal hadn’t been leaked. He also suggested that the incident may make him wary about future dealings with the Suns and Wizards.

“I don’t carry grudges, but I’m not happy about what happened last night,” he said. “We were put in a very difficult position with our players, a position we take great pains not to get into, and we were forced to talk to them (about a trade) right after a loss in the locker room. This should all have stayed in house, and it didn’t, and that started the avalanche going downhill.”