Soon after Marcin Gortat re-signed for five years and $60 million with the Wizards, Trevor Ariza -- in a somewhat surprising move -- was on the phone with the front office to discuss details on what could turn into a deal late Tuesday, several people with knowledge of the situation told CSN Washington.
Ariza, who made $7.7 million last season, watched the USA vs. Belgium game in the World Cup at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, Calif., near the offices of his agent Rob Pelinka, and then listened to the pitch from Wizards coach Randy Wittman and director of player development Ed Tapscott.
Wittman had flown to Poland over the weekend with senior vice president Tommy Sheppard to secure Gortat and then traveled with Tapscott for Ariza.
The pitch to Ariza went something like this: Ariza has played for six teams and needs to find some place to call home; with John Wall as his point guard he had a career-best season; and Gortat's decision to stay signals they're committing to win long-term.
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The Wizards were confident in their ability to retain their two top unrestricted free agents because they'll have the cap room when it's re-adjusted upward of $5 million after the audit of league finances is completed.
And they also were encouraged by Ariza meeting with Wall and Bradley Beal in Los Angeles earlier this summer for dinner, something that's a rare occurrence for a franchise that had been noted for chemistry issues on and off the court.
Ariza was expected to take a few days, after hearing pitches from other teams, before getting on the phone with president Ernie Grunfeld to discuss a possible deal. However, a person with knowledge of the situation said he may have been "inspired" to just get a deal done such as Gortat who didn't hesitate in re-signing. Plus, Ariza's relationship with Gortat is rock-solid.
The key will be exactly for how much and how long will the contract offer be. The more money per year Ariza wants likely will result in a shorter contract; less money per year will mean a longer contract, sources said.
Ariza produced the best season of his career with 14.4 points on a career-high 40.7 percent from three-point range and 6.2 rebounds as the Wizards advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in nine years. That success may result in a relative "discount" if it helps the Wizards acquire more talent. Had this been a losing team or one that underperformed in the playoffs, Ariza's price-tag would rise significantly higher.
Noted for his defense -- even though he only received three total votes for the NBA's All-Defensive teams -- Ariza excelled vs. LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, which was why he is in high demand.
Still, much of his success as an offensive player is tied to Wall because his dribble penetration creates spot-up opportunities for Ariza, the way it did for Martell Webster when he had his best season in 2012-13. Of Ariza's 389 made field goals last season, 42% of them were on assists from Wall.
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