Yesterday around 10 PM eastern time we got the news that Trevor Ariza was finally leaving Phoenix, heading back to the Capitol for his second stint as a Washington Wizard.
It took just 28 minutes for Adrian Wojnarowski to reveal the full details of the trade. Memphis was involved as well, as a third team in the deal. With Ariza heading to Washington, Kelly Oubre would go to the Grizzlies, and Austin Rivers, along with Grizzlies role players Wayne Selden and Dillon Brooks, would join the Phoenix Suns.
Wait, never mind. That’s not right.
With Ariza heading to Washington, Kelly Oubre would go to the Grizzlies, and Austin Rivers, along with Grizzlies role players Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks, would join the Phoenix Suns.
Woj must’ve messed up for once or something.
Or maybe the NBA’s just a soap opera full of hilarious idiots, like it has been all year.
See, the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies never once talked to each other as this trade was being figured out. James Jones never talked to Chris Wallace and Robert Sarver never talked to Robert Pera. I don’t know how, considering an NBA trade generally takes weeks of contact between front offices and general managers and scouts, but somehow this deal was thrown together so quickly that the two teams never talked directly and instead used Washington as a go-between the whole time.
The Suns wanted Dillon Brooks. The Wizards told the Grizzlies the Suns wanted Brooks. They presumably forgot to include the “Dillon” part of Dillon Brooks, because the Grizzlies then tried to send MarShon Brooks to Phoenix.
The Grizzlies refused to part with Dillon. The Suns refused to bring in MarShon instead of Dillon.
The Lakers tried to get involved again. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wasn’t enough for Phoenix. Josh Hart was too much for the Lakers to be willing to give up. In the end it didn’t matter anyways, because Robert Sarver refused to let James Jones and the rest of the front office do a deal with the Lakers at all because he’s upset about how the Lakers acquired Tyson Chandler from them.
So, back to Washington, they simplified the deal and sent Oubre and Rivers to Phoenix for Ariza.
Losing Oubre in this trade makes this an interesting decision on the part of the Wizards. Even though it feels like he’s been in the league forever, he’s still only 23, and having improved every year of his career so far, it feels like he could have a major role in the league for years to come.
Coach Brooks has been openly been critical of him though throughout his time at Washington, particularly about his inconsistent effort on defense.
In Phoenix, he has a chance to take Ariza’s spot in the starting five and steal potential minutes away from Josh Jackson, who’s driven Suns fans crazy with his backwards development from last season. On a team that’s not especially focused on winning, he’ll get lots more opportunities offensively than he was on a panicking Washington team that can’t seem to get things to work despite the presence of two all-star caliber players.
It’s odd that the Wizards are making this move too frankly. It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to recover to any real extent this season, and Ariza’s only an upgrade over Oubre in the short term. Yes, he’s an expiring large contract, but so was Rivers.
He is a well-known veteran leader who already has a relationship with John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter, from his first stint at the team. That locker room presence is something that matters more than people realize, which the Wizards currently don’t have to any extent. He’s matured a lot from when his main role was intentionally injuring opponents.
Austin Rivers didn’t have the best of times in Washington. It was a situation that, frankly, was never going to work out for him. There’s too many other different guards and it’s far too different of a system from what he’s succeeded in before. I don’t know how they ever thought it was going to work.
Considering Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton are their only point guards right now, there’s a good chance we’ll see Rivers and Devin Booker on the floor together in the backcourt. As the season slides further away from them, he’ll almost certainly be given extended playing time down the stretch once tank season begins.
Now we wait for the notice that the Suns actually wanted to acquire Doc Rivers instead.