Trevor Ariza

Wizards Notes: GM Search, Wall, Ariza

The Wizards will be vying this spring with the Suns, Pelicans, and possibly the Timberwolves for general manager candidates. And while Washington may not have the promising cap outlook or collection of young players out of those teams, it still may be considered the best opportunity for GM hopefuls, writes Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

“We really care about two things: Is the boss invested in his team, and will he prove it by spending the money we ask him to spend?” one longtime executive said to Golliver. “(Wizards owner) Ted (Leonsis) is two-for-two. He won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals. He paid John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Ian Mahinmi. He paid Andray Blatche and then paid him to go away. What more could you want?”

Leonsis says there’s no list of candidates yet to replace former president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld, but league executives tell Golliver that the search figures to include “past and present top decision-makers, as well as up-and-coming executives.” Besides some of the names already mentioned as candidates, Golliver identifies Thunder vice president Troy Weaver and Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik as a couple more options for the Wizards.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Firing Grunfeld was the right move, but the Wizards did it for the wrong reasons, contends Tom Ziller of In a separate article for The Washington Post, Golliver writes that a number of Grunfeld’s personnel missteps continue to loom large over the franchise.
  • While head coach Scott Brooks is expected to return for the 2019/20 season, he acknowledges that it could be a difficult year of transition for the Wizards. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for the next general manger to come in and shape the team,” Brooks said, per Lisa Redmond of NBC Sports Washington. “… We have five players and plus a first-round pick coming up and so it’s going to be a very important summer with John (Wall) being out. You know, we have to be very creative. Not going to make an excuse that it’s going to be a tough year, but it’s going to be a challenging year.”
  • Speaking of Wall, even though his Achilles injury is bad news for the Wizards, there’s a possible silver lining, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. As Buckner outlines, the franchise will only be on the hook for 20% of Wall’s 2019/20 salary until he returns to the court, with insurance picking up the other 80%. Of course, Wall’s full super-max salary (projected to be worth $37.8MM) will still count against the cap.
  • Wizards forward Trevor Ariza is likely done for the season due to his groin injury, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The team has previously expressed interest in retaining Ariza – an unrestricted free agent this summer – beyond this season, but it’s not clear how the front office shakeup will affect the veteran.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Winslow, Ariza, Carter-Williams

The Heat may have to make their final push for the playoffs without Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, relays Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Neither player traveled with the team on its two-game trip to New York and Boston, and there’s no guarantee that either will return over the final week and a half of the regular season.

Richardson, Miami’s leading scorer at 16.7 PPG, suffered a bruised left heel when he was undercut in Tuesday’s game. He has been wearing a walking boot for protection and because he’s not able to put pressure on the heel.

Winslow missed his eighth straight game tonight with a bruised right thigh. The team hoped to have him back this week, but he hasn’t made enough progress to resume playing. Rodney McGruder also didn’t make the trip because of an aching left knee, and coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed that they’re all getting “as much treatment and work they can get around the clock. That’s their focus.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The short-handed Heat are turning to rookie power forward Duncan Robinson to help fill the gap until their injured players return, Jackson adds in the same story. Robinson signed a two-way contract last summer and has only appeared in 12 NBA games. However, he played 22 minutes Thursday night. “He’s certainly gotten better,” Spoelstra said. “He had a phenomenal year in the G League, but he’s improved his defense, his body, conditioning, his strength. He’s improved his ability to work on the move for catch and shoot opportunities. He’s become much more dynamic.”
  • Bradley Beal‘s competitive nature will likely prevent him from taking any nights off, even though the Wizards are out of playoff contention, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. However, Trevor Ariza appears to be done for the year after aggravating his left groin strain on Tuesday.
  • The Magic have been so impressed by Michael Carter-Williams that they would like to have him on the postseason roster if they qualify, but that will require a difficult decision next week, notes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando received an injury hardship waiver that enabled it to sign Carter-Williams to a pair of 10-day contracts. His second deal expires Thursday, and he must be added to the 15-man roster to be eligible for the playoffs. Robbins identifies Jerian Grant and Isaiah Briscoe as candidates to be waived to make room.

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Ariza, Fultz, Beal

The Heat have dealt with rotation issues all season and they’ll have another dilemma when they return from the All-Star break. Point guard Goran Dragic is expected to return after recovering from arthroscopic surgery to his right knee. That will impact Justise Winslow, whose role as a playmaker and ballhandler has expanded in Dragic’s absence. Winslow enjoys playing with Dragic but doesn’t want to lose his starting spot.

“I’m going to think about that and let my curiosity go crazy during the All-Star break,” Winslow told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “That’s something that is out of my control. I can say what I would want, but it’s up to the coaches and I am ready to execute whatever role they give me.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Trevor Ariza was glad he was traded to the Wizards because of his familiarity with the organization and some of their players, Kimberly Cataudella of NBC Sports Washington relays. Ariza even implied he had some input on the trade made with the Suns, with whom he signed a one-year contract last summer. “If I [were] to leave [Phoenix], for me, it would be home or a place that I’m familiar with, and the opportunity came to come to Washington, and I chose Washington over everything,” he said. Ariza is averaging 15.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 4.3 APG in 28 starts since the trade.
  • Not only do the Magic have big plans for Markelle Fultz, they’re already envisioning what he could do for them if they reach the postseason in upcoming years, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel reports. The No. pick in the 2017 draft was dealt by Philadelphia to Orlando earlier this month. “Watching film of him in Philly and then also of him in college … I’m not sure there’s an aspect of the game he can’t excel at,” coach Steve Clifford said. “Particularly in playoff series, you’ve got to have guys that can play both ways.”
  • Wizards guard Bradley Beal may have irritated some Celtics and Sixers fans with a comment he made during an All-Star event, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Asked which team he believed would win the Eastern Conference championship, Beal replied: “I think it’s going to be Toronto or Milwaukee.”

Ariza, Green In Wizards’ Plans Beyond 2018/19

After making a pair of trades last night, the Wizards figure to be quiet today, according to Ben Standig of NBC Sports.

Bradley Beal, the subject of trade rumors for much of the year, will remain on the roster, along with upcoming free agents Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green, who are both in the team’s plans beyond this season, a source tells Standig.

Washington dipped below the luxury tax line Wednesday by sending Otto Porter to the Bulls in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker and shipping Markieff Morris and a 2023 second-round pick to the Pelicans for Wesley Johnson. Porter’s contract, which pays him $55MM over the next two seasons, left the Wizards with little financial flexibility.

Ariza, who was acquired from the Suns in December, is “enthusiastic” about re-signing with Washington, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). He’s averaging career highs in points (15.2) and assists (4.2) since coming back to the Wizards. Green, who is playing for the veterans minimum, is averaging 12.5 PPG while shooting 36.5% from 3-point range.

Washington now has just four players with contracts that extend beyond this season — Beal, John Wall, Ian Mahinmi and rookie Troy Brown. Portis, Tomas Satoransky, Thomas Bryant and Sam Dekker will all be restricted free agents.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Ariza, Conley, Gasol

It was a busy night for the Wizards, who officially completed a trade that sent Otto Porter to the Bulls for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a future second-round pick, then later finalized a deal to move Markieff Morris and a second-rounder to the Pelicans for Wesley Johnson.

While the pair of moves won’t necessarily make Washington a better team on the court, the financial implications are significant. The Wizards have now slipped below the luxury tax line for the 2018/19 season, which will help them avoid the repeater tax going forward.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (via Twitter), the Wizards have now saved $18.3MM toward the tax since the start of the season, sneaking just $232K below the threshold with today’s Portis and Morris deals.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • After tonight’s trade of Porter to Chicago, the Wizards’ future now lies in the hands of Bradley Beal, writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. He suggests that owner Ted Leonsis should meet with Beal soon to find out how committed he is to the team’s future. Regardless of the answer, it will provide a road map for which moves need to be made next.
  • For what it’s worth, the Wizards have no intention of moving Beal this week, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Aldridge argues (via Twitter) that there’s no point in the Wizards hanging onto Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green – a pair of veterans on expiring contracts – for the rest of the season. However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that there’s mutual interest between Ariza and the Wizards in extending their relationship beyond this season. That should be easier financially for the club now that Porter is off the books.
  • Today’s trade with the Bulls came together quickly, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Sources tell her that trade talks between Washington and Chicago didn’t start until today. In a full story for The Post, Buckner explores how the trade of Porter – and the subsequent trade of Morris – shook up the Wizards’ locker room.
  • Before word of the Wizards’ second trade broke today, Buckner reported (via Twitter) that the team has inquired on Grizzlies trade candidates Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. It’s hard to envision Washington making a move for either player at this point.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Lakers Have ‘Fondness’ For Possible Trevor Ariza Reunion

If the Wizards make Trevor Ariza available in trades ahead of Thursday’s deadline, the Lakers would be interested in his services, tweets ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Before the Suns traded Ariza to the Wizards in mid-December, the Lakers had explored a three-team deal that would have brought swingman to Hollywood. Ariza, 33, has previously suited up for the Lakers as he was a key member of the organization’s run to the 2009 NBA championship.

The Lakers agreed in principle to acquire Pistons‘ swingman Reggie Bullock on Wednesday. It’s unclear how, or if, the addition of Bullock would impact the Lakers’ interest in Ariza.

In 49 games this season, Ariza has averaged 12.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 3.7 APG between Washington and Phoenix. However, he has played much better since being traded, evidenced by his 15.2 PPG average and .390% field goal percentage. At 22-31, the Wizards occupy 10th place in the Eastern Conference, three games back of the Heat for the eighth seed. However, a rash of injuries has essentially halted Washington’s postseason hopes.

The Lakers’ primary target in trades this week has been Pelicans’ superstar Anthony Davis. However, after several days of negotiations, Los Angeles reportedly pulled out of sweepstakes due to the Pelicans’ demands. If the Lakers do not acquire Davis, it’s possible they shift their focus to other targets as they fight for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Kings, Lakers, Warriors

A $230MM renovation deal for Talking Stick Resort Arena was approved by Phoenix City Council this week, with the city committing to $150MM of that figure, while the Suns will contribute $80MM. However, as Abe Kwok of The Arizona Republic details, a number of Phoenix residents aren’t thrilled about that decision, and have launched an effort to force a referendum that would allow the public to vote on the issue.

“This seems like a situation where the voters of Phoenix very well may want to weigh in,” said Drew Chavez of Petition Partners, a Phoenix group that runs many initiative petitions in Arizona. “If we can give them a chance to do so, it would be a public service. We’re talking about millions of dollars that could be spent on public safety or repairing our streets instead of fixing up the arena for the Suns and their billionaire owner.”

The issue of public funding for the Suns’ arena funding has been a contentious one, with backers of the deal arguing that the building is used for more than just basketball, while opponents have made the case that Suns owner Robert Sarver should put up the money for the renovations himself. According to Kwok, the group seeking a referendum on the issue would have 30 days to secure approximately 13,700 petition signatures to qualify for a public vote.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee takes a look at the Kings‘ options for the trade deadline, citing league sources who say that the club’s discussions with the Knicks about Enes Kanter “quickly broke down.” Based on various reports on those talks, it sounds like Sacramento wanted to include at least one more expiring contract and New York was unwilling to take another deal without an extra asset.
  • While the Lakers would love to acquire a second superstar that makes them a threat in 2018/19 and beyond, they’re more likely to make a smaller-scale move at the deadline, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic, who writes that the club is eyeing shooters on expiring contracts. Wayne Ellington, Terrence Ross, Garrett Temple, and Trevor Ariza are among the players Oram identifies as possible targets.
  • The Lakers have let a number of players walk in free agency or traded them away since Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka assumed control of the front office in 2017. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report revisits those decisions, arguing that the team likely gave up too early on Thomas Bryant and D’Angelo Russell, and probably should’ve made more of an effort to re-sign Julius Randle and Brook Lopez last summer.
  • How did Warriors teammates Kevin Durant and Draymond Green mend fences after a very public altercation earlier this season? Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the situation and explores the relationship between the two All-Stars.

Spurs Have Inquired On Wing Players

While the Spurs typically aren’t too active on the trade market during the season, they’ve inquired about possible targets on the wing over the last few months, league sources tell Jabari Young of The Athletic. According to Young, San Antonio had interest in Trevor Ariza but couldn’t put together a package that would work before he was sent from Phoenix to D.C.

Young isn’t 100% sure that the Spurs remain in the market for a wing, but identifies Pistons forward Stanley Johnson as one player who could be on the team’s radar. As Young points out, Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright was part of Detroit’s front office in 2015 when the Pistons drafted Johnson eighth overall, and is believed to still be a big fan of the 22-year-old.

The 20-26 Pistons are tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference and may not be overly interested in moving Johnson as long as they remain in the hunt for a postseason spot. However, if Detroit considers moving the RFA-to-be, the club could seek a protected first-round pick or a pair of second-rounders, says Young.

With only a few months left on Johnson’s contract and the Spurs viewed as a difficult trade partner with whom to negotiate, a trade may be a long shot, Young notes. Nonetheless, it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on as February 7 approaches.

Here are a few more notes out of San Antonio:

  • Pau Gasol looks like one of the more obvious trade candidates on the Spurs’ roster, but a league executive tells Young, “I just don’t see him having any trade value.” Gasol has played limited minutes since returning from a foot injury that sidelined him for a good chunk of the season.
  • Here’s what Gasol had to say when asked if he’d prefer a change of scenery and an opportunity to play more, according to Young: “I’m trying to adjust and keep things in perspective. Everything has a positive outcome. I’m glad my foot is reacting well, and hopefully, I’ll get a chance to build on my minutes and my contribution to the team. Will I love to play more and have a bigger role? Absolutely, because that’s the kind of player and competitor that I am. But at the same time, I follow the coach’s directives, and you got to fulfill a role, whatever that role is. And that’s what you get paid to do. That’s a part of your job as a player.”
  • Spurs general manager R.C. Buford didn’t rule out the possibility of making an in-season trade, adding that the club will “answer the phone” in the coming weeks. However, as Young relays, Buford also didn’t sound overly eager to make any changes. “Our guys are playing well,” Buford said. “You don’t want to disrupt the chemistry.”

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.