According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, it appears that the Heat, Lakers, Cavaliers, and Mavericks are all lining up to try to snag Ariza away from the Wizards.
The Mavs, Cavs, Lakers and Heat are pursuing Wizards free agent Trevor Ariza, league sources say. Ariza seeking deal starting at $9-$11m.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 7, 2014
Heat can only meet that price for Ariza, obviously, if one of Big Three were to leave.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 7, 2014
With Ariza, incumbent Wizards also in pursuit, sources say.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 7, 2014
Even with the inflated salary cap this coming season, a ~$10 million per year price tag for Ariza could be a little steep for all four of those teams -- especially the Heat. One would assume that any negotiations would try to bring down that price tag a bit, especially if that lower price could further guarantee two things NBA players covet most of all: financial stability and championship potential.
The Wizards, at this point, have the home field advantage. Ariza had a fantastic year in D.C. this past season, and his teammates would love to see him return. Additionally, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has made it clear that their main priority this offseason was to keep as many of their own guys as possible. So far, the Wizards have managed to lock up Marcin Gortat to a 5-year $60 million contract and fulfilling part of that goal. Locking up Ariza would largely fulfill the rest of that goal.
Although it's been argued on this site and elsewhere that Ariza's abilities are replaceable on the open market, it would still be a credibility coup for this once-faltering franchise to be able to hang onto its key free agents when it used to see many of them walk away for greener pastures.
We'll continue to update you on this story as it develops. Regardless of where he ends up, Ariza's name is one we'll hear for quite some time in the next week or so.