With the post-NBA draft euphoria surrounding local product Otto Porter Jr., along with the excitement of the return of fan-favorite Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza has seemed to be painted as the odd man out.
There is a logjam at the small forward position and a dearth of big man depth on the team. Naturally, fans would assume a trade is looming. However, should the Wizards aggressively try to rid of a player like Ariza? Maybe.
The potential trade targets that correlate with the Wizards’ needs are difficult to decipher and may not be existent in the first place. However, it would be wise of the team to regardless, create certain restrictions on the type of player and the type of contract they receive in return.
The ideal scenario involving a trade with Ariza would be to acquire a big man that can shoot and has an expiring contract that would not cut into Washington’s cap space in 2014. The extra cap flexibility will prove extremely useful to a team in a relatively large market and potential star appeal with John Wall and Bradley Beal.
But, is this scenario even realistic? The only real option I can think of at this point in time is a trade with the Sacramento Kings for Patrick Patterson involving Ariza. Patterson and Jimmer Fredette in exchange for Trevor Ariza works salary wise, and would potentially benefit both teams with Ariza’s expiring contract for Sacremento and Patrick Patterson’s stretch 4 potential for Washington.
There are many scenarios that could be mentioned, but it’s virtually impossible to create a cohesive trade without knowing the teams’ internal discussions. The bottom line, however, is that the Wizards need frontcourt depth, and Ariza is their best trade bait to look for it.
There is a very real possibility however, that the Wizards do not find fair value for Ariza. In this instance, should they try to look to dump Ariza for what they can get just so they can create room in their small forward rotation? Probably not. Ariza’s potentially valuable expiring deal along with the positives he brings as a player are far too much, just to merely force him in a trade just to get rid of him.
Ariza is a very solid wing defender that was often relied on by the team to defend the opponents’ best perimeter offensive option (s). He defended up to three positions and was also a pest in the passing lanes. He fit extremely well into Randy Wittman’s defensive sets, explaining why he played significant minutes last year despite coming off the bench behind Martell Webster, even referring to himself as the “sixth starter” for Wizards.
Ariza’s defense was complemented by his improved offensive game this year. He shot a career high in threes this past season, shooting 36% and shooting 41.5% behind the arc after the all-star break. Even as a passable shooter, Ariza has value because of how well he is able to defend. Ariza limited his long twos this year and a higher percentage of his shot attempts comprised of 3 pointers and shots at the rim.
Otto Porter cannot be expected to effectively guard NBA wings and guards right out of the gate, considering his adjustment to a new scheme and limited lateral quickness. Ariza can take over this role, putting less pressure on the rookie and showing him the ropes on how to defend the NBA’s best.
Some may ask about the potential minutes distribution between the 3 small forwards, however, all 3 are extremely versatile players. Webster and Ariza have shown the ability to play some stretches as shooting guards, though they are limited because of their lack of ball-handling capability. Ariza in particular has shown the ability to play the 4. In fact, Ariza was often forced to do it in order to counter various opponents small-ball tactics. The point is, while it may take some maneuvering, minutes distribution is possible between the Ariza, Webster and Porter.
There really is no defined answer for whether the Wizards should trade Ariza or not. If options are open and the team could potentially fill a major need (in this case, frontcourt depth), then they should absolutely explore those options. However, the worst thing you can do with a trade asset is telegraph its trade and devalue it. While it would be wise for the Wizards to explore all possible avenues, there is no need to rush in trading Trevor Ariza.