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Trevor Ariza's contract may be harder to move than you think

The Wizards' depth at small forward has an obvious solution, but applying it while pulling an appreciable asset is easier said than done.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not certain I’d call it an embarrassment of riches, just yet anyway, but the Wizards are awful deep at small forward, not so deep elsewhere and Trevor Ariza has that fat, expiring contract. He plays elite perimeter defense, can hit the 3 and on a team still looking to the future, he’s a luxury.

Cherry-picking an interesting trade partner shouldn't be much of a challenge, but faced with the dichotomy of an increased number of teams don't-call-it-tanking for ping pong balls in the 2014 Draft and teams revving past the salary cap redline, attractive options may be harder to come by than you previously imagined.

Omer Asik is a sexy name right now given his reported displeasure with the Dwight Howard signing, but consider a few things:

  • The Wizards may be happy with Emeka Okafor. They may look to re-sign him. They won't want to pay two starting centers.
  • If the Wizards like Okafor, which is hardly a stretch, it's unlikely they'll offer the value Houston will undoubtedly loo-kafor in trade. You're welcome, Mike.
  • Also, Daryl Morey can afford to wait for the trade deadline if no suitable offers present themselves right away. Asik is more than starting-caliber and you can bet Morey’ll find a suitor willing to offer more than a defensive super-sub if the somewhat-forced Twin Towers rebirth has fouled the locker room, looks like a failed experiment or some combination of the two.
  • The Rockets are in the market for a stretch 4 and Ariza doesn’t fit the bill. The Wizards have no one who fits the bill. However, a contender requires excellent depth as well as starters. If Morey is able to address the Rockets need at power forward without trading Asik, then Ariza and a first-rounder may be sufficient inducement to swap. I leave the wisdom of such a notion to the comments.

My favorite target for trading down in the draft, the Sacramento Kings, have retained their millionth power forward in Carl Landry. With Jason Thompson recently inked to a new deal, Patrick Patterson appears mighty expendable, at first. Chuck Hayes has been mentioned around as cap balance for such a move, but it seems more likely the Kings swing Jason Thompson in a new deal; Hayes is too costly for a team with plenty of cap space to casually take on, Patterson fit in nicely last season and Landry is freshly (and expensively) signed. Throw in their recent acquisition of small forward Luc Mbah a Moute, and it doesn't seem likely the Kings would be interested in giving up anything of value for Ariza.

Another point to think about is that by locking up Martell Webster and signing Eric Maynor to multiyear deals, the Wizards have clearly established their need for a stretch 4. Tougher to negotiate when the other side of the table knows exactly what you need.

Consider Andrei Kirilenko's inability to find work. Granted, he's looking for the kind of abomination deal Richard Jefferson got after opting out of his final year with the Spurs. That deal probably isn't out there for the 32 year old, but it only takes one team. The funny thing is that the market for Kirilenko will remain depressed while Ariza is nominally available (undeclared by Ernie Grunfeld, but hardly a challenging deduction for front-offices around the league) and vice-versa.

Many of the teams driving hard for playoff or lottery position have already made their beds. Perhaps a bubble playoff team in Milwaukee yearning to be swept by the Heat looking for a nominal upgrade over Carlos Delfino could be persuaded to part with an Ersan Ilyasova. There are concerns with the length of his deal, though a team option in the final year could prove an interesting asset in 2016/17. The Suns may be willing to part with Channing Frye, if that interests you.

But in the end, it should be plenty obvious that this isn't a seller's market. Finding good value for Ariza's expiring contract may be tougher than you think.

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