The Washington Wizards have locked up one of their two key free agents by retaining Marcin Gortat to a long term deal, but Trevor Ariza still remains an unrestricted free agent with interest from plenty of teams around the NBA.
Washington was able to get Gortat to agree to a deal rather quickly, but it seems like Ariza isn’t ready to commit just yet. As I previously stated, he’s reportedly gotten interest from several intriguing teams around the NBA, including the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. Ariza, who played for UCLA and won a championship with the Lakers in 2009, has always been fond of the Los Angeles area and could potentially leave the nation’s capital to be closer with his family.
With that said, the Wizards have reached out to several possible replacements if Ariza does end up leaving this summer. Washington reached out to Luol Deng‘s representatives yesterday, but have also met and spoken to Thabo Sefolosha today at the Verizon Center–according to David Aldridge.
Re: Sefolosha/Greg Monroe at Verizon Center: Sefolosha indeed talking w/Wiz. Monroe is there just to watch the Mystics game tonight.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 3, 2014
Now that Marcin Gortat is back, the Washington Wizards don’t have as much flexibility and will probably end up signing a cheap replacement if Ariza opts to leave. Thabo Sefolosha, a defensive specialist, would fit into Randy Wittman‘s system and could likely replacement Ariza’s defensive contributions, but his shooting and offense leave much to be desired.
The Washington Wizards thrived off the three point shot, and over year, Thabo Sefolosha hasn’t really been productive in that aspect. Thabo Sefolosha shot over 40% from three during the ’11-12 and ’12-13 NBA seasons, but made just over 30% of his three point attempts this past season.
The Wizards rely on the corner three point shot more than any other team in the NBA, and with Martell Webster hurt, they’re going to need someone to replace that productivity if Ariza leaves. Is Thabo Sefolosha that player? At this point, he might not be.
Thabo Sefolosha averaged just over 6 points and nearly 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. He struggled offensively and eventually fell out of the rotation during the latter half of the NBA season and the playoffs. He has also dealt with some injuries, which contributed to his struggles.
As we’ve seen with both Webster and Ariza, wing players typically improve when playing along side John Wall, and if Thabo Sefolosha does end up being Ariza’s replacement, let’s hope that applies to him as well.