The Washington Wizards have made it clear that they want to retain two of their key free agents, and by agreeing to a deal with Marcin Gortat today, there’s only one player left in free agency that’s high on their priority list–Trevor Ariza.
Trevor Ariza, who averaged 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists with the Wizards, has received interest from multiple teams around the league, including multiple legitimate championship contenders. Trevor Ariza has also supposedly received interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, who he won a championship with in 2009.
According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Ed Tapscott visited Trevor Ariza in Los Angeles, but he was unable to get a commitment from Ariza, which is typical from unrestricted free agents. Given the amount of interest Ariza is getting, the Wizards will inevitably reach out to other available small forwards, which has included former All-Star Luol Deng.
Though keeping Ariza remains the Wizards’ preferred option after his resurgent season, the team has reached out to other potential replacements. Washington contacted the representatives of Cleveland free agent forward and two-time all-star Luol Deng to express interest, according to person with knowledge of the situation.
Luol Deng has been linked to the Washington Wizards in rumors in the past, and though the Wizards have expressed interest to his representatives, I would be surprised if he ended up in the nation’s capital this summer.
Reports have stated that Luol Deng is expected to make anywhere from $8-11 million per season and that would likely deter the Wizards from pursuing him any further. Regardless, it’s pretty apparent that Trevor Ariza may not return to Washington this summer and the team will continue to keep their options open. Michael Lee of the Washington Post is also reporting that Washington “has a number that it is unwilling to surpass and is unlikely to get into a bidding war.”
Luol Deng averaged 16 points, nearly 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game, but has played an enormous amount of minutes and is due for a much larger contract than he’s probably worth at this point in his career. He was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement for a contract extension.
The Wizards will obviously reach out to the available replacement if Trevor Ariza does end up walking this summer, but in this case, I think there are much better, cheaper solutions. P.J. Tucker, Marvin Williams, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and Al-Farouq Aminu are also unrestricted free agents.