Despite a very good season with the Washington Wizards, typical of a contract-year player, there’s a good chance Trevor Ariza will be going somewhere else in this free agency period, with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers first in line to sign the small forward.
A 10-year veteran with an NBA championship in 2009 when playing for the Lakers, Ariza started in 77 games last season for the Wizards, averaging 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. His scoring slightly dropped in the postseason (13.3 points) but he still played quite well for a Wizards team that reached the conference semifinals, taking the Indiana Pacers to six games before getting knocked out.
While one of the first things a general manager and a scout learn in the NBA has to do with ‘bewaring the contract year player’, Ariza is still going to get picked up. He might not make the $7.7 million he made last season for the Wizards, but this isn’t going to be a case of someone looking for the veteran’s minimum just to be on a team that means something. Sure, he’d like to be part of a serious playoff team, but not if it means giving up too much money.
And it’s not just the mentioned teams in the opening paragraph that are going after him. Other sources suggest he’ll have more offers coming in, including the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers with their ample cap space or the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are a bit more limited in what they can offer.
For the teams with limitations on their cap and ability to spend, Ariza isn’t their first option. He might be more realistic than Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, but they’ll only take a look at him after they get the answer from the top names in this free agency period. Teams like the Mavs, Lakers and Suns have the ability to do both, and might have a better chance of landing Ariza early on, unless he’s also in the business of waiting to see how things unfold.