Given those objectives, you’d think moving Trevor Ariza would be an obvious move. He is one of the more intriguing trade chips Washington has held in some time. He’s a battle-tested veteran on a large, expiring deal who could fetch an asset and/or salary relief from a serious playoff contender.
The Lakers, who were reportedly looking for a way to get him earlier this season before Washington nabbed him in the Kelly Oubre Jr. trade, are still interested in him according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. However, Fred Katz of The Athletic is reporting the Wizards aren’t looking to move Ariza in a deal that hurts their outlook this season.
Ariza loves being on the West Coast and his $15M salary makes him a candidate the Wizards could use to shave luxury tax dollars in a deal, but from what I'm hearing, Wizards don't want to make a trade that makes them worse this year. https://t.co/psNNb6R2aA— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 5, 2019
An Ariza for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope swap would help the Wizards shave $3 million off their payroll, but since that doesn’t appear to be on the table, it’s hard to find another way the Wizards could work out a deal with Los Angeles. The Lakers can’t afford to part with any of their young assets while they try to put together a trade offer for Anthony Davis, and all their veterans are step below what Ariza can offer, and all their veterans are downgrades from Ariza (other than that LeBron guy).
If Ariza is off the table, that only leaves a few other ways to get under the tax, and they all come with some complications.
- Washington could trade Ariza for someone cheaper and better, but they’d have to attach an asset to pull that off.
- The Wizards could look to move Markieff Morris’ expiring deal to get under the tax, but there aren’t many teams who can take on that much money and send so little back it would get Washington under the tax line. Those that can will probably want some asset to absorb that extra money, especially since he likely will not be available to play until after the All-Star break.
- They could try to cobble together some of their low-cost players like Tomas Satoransky, Sam Dekker and Jeff Green to get under, but some of those savings would be offset by the players they‘d have to sign to get back to the roster minimum.
Even if Washington keeps Ariza through the deadline, they’ll face another tough decision in a few months when he hits unrestricted free agency. The Wizards have to find the balance between making a competitive offer and overpaying for the tail end of his career. Plus, there’s always the risk that even if Washington makes a big offer that Ariza goes somewhere else. It wouldn’t be the first time.