Generally, free-agents-to-be are vague when asked about their future prospects in exit interviews. They don't want to kill their leverage going elsewhere. They don't want to offer false promises.
That's why I found Trevor Ariza's words important. In contrast to all that, Ariza seemed open about wanted to stay in D.C. without actually saying it. From CSN Washington's J Michael:
"Trust. Having trust in where you are, with your organization, with your teammates and how comfortable you are," Ariza said when asked to prioritize how he'll go about his decision. "How comfortable my family is. This year my family has been extremely comfortable. We loved the neighborhood that we lived in. The organization has been great. Teammates, we hung out all the time. This is a really good destination. Free agents would be crazy not to come here.
Earlier, he said that the Wizards' chemistry this season "was a beautiful thing to see."
These aren't generally the kinds of things one says lightly. Remember: Ariza has bounced around the league a hell of a lot for a 28-year-old. The Wizards are his sixth team, and he's never spent more than two years in one place. He's played for seven different coaches, some of whom buried him, some of whom believed in him. He has a family he either must constantly move around the country or leave for extended periods of time. He is a basketball nomad. Some of that was self-inflicted, sure, but he's a different person than he was when he turned down the Lakers' offer to go to Houston in 2009.
He's also grown as a player this year. I was told earlier this year that when he first arrived, the coaching staff had to encourage him to get ready to shoot threes. He never seemed to have his hands up at the right time, and it affected his shot balance. But gradually, the message got through. Ariza worked diligently every single day at getting his hands ready to shoot, and that, along with getting a ton of open looks from John Wall, made a huge difference.
Folks want to downplay his fantastic shooting year by saying it was a contract-year surge, but that sells that adjustment short. The Wizards saw a problem, Ariza worked to fix it and his shot improved. Does that mean he'll hit 41 percent of his threes again? Perhaps not, because regressions happen, but he's not hitting 30 percent like he did in 2010-11 either.
There's clearly a level of comfort that Ariza has with this organization. How it affects his free agency remains to be seen, but I think it's unique. These quotes aren't coming out of nowhere.