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Wizards Trade Timeline: The crazy behind-the-scenes of scrapped Trevor Ariza trade


Wizards Trade Timeline: The crazy behind-the-scenes of scrapped Trevor Ariza trade

UPDATE at 12:24 p.m.:

Wizards complete trade to acquire Trevor Ariza in exchange for Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers

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The Washington Wizards’ attempt at upgrading their defense by acquiring veteran forward Trevor Ariza in exchange for key reserves Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers fell through. Various reports on how the three-team trade with the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies fell apart includes contradicting details.

The subsequent noise and chaos created confusion over what transpired. As of Friday night all we knew for sure was the no trade was ever reported to the league for approval. Here’s what NBC Sports Washington has learned as of early Saturday morning from league sources.

Quick recap: The Wizards were in talks to add Ariza, who played two seasons with Washington (2012-2014), along with a pair of second-round picks coming from Memphis. Oubre would land with the Grizzlies while the Suns would receive Rivers, Memphis guard Wayne Selden and player with the last name Brooks.

Trade news popped moments after the Wizards’ 125-118 loss at Brooklyn. Washington fell to 11-18 after a fourth consecutive loss. Another lost moment soon followed.

Everything blew up because the Suns believed they were acquiring Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks, a second-year player, while the Grizzlies claim the trade involved journeyman MarShon Brooks. Deals are torpedoed at the last minute from time to time. That happened here except reports leaked publicly with the details, including the Brooks confusion, all of which led to a wild night on social media.

- The Wizards entered into discussions about Ariza over the last 2-3 days. By that point, the Suns and Grizzlies were deep into conversations about a potential move with Memphis concerning Dillon Brooks. The two sides talked at least a half-dozen times over 7-10 days including at least one directl chat with owners of both teams.

With Dillon Brooks currently sidelined by a knee injury, the Suns requested the guard’s physical from the Grizzlies. Enough information and dialogue were exchanged during the process between all three teams that there was clear understanding of the players involved, at least for the Suns and Wizards. It’s possible what all witnessed was a bad case of nerves by the Grizzlies at the buzzer.

Other reports offer similar details, but Memphis general manager Chris Wallace countered the notion of Dillon Brooks’ involvement from the start, according to ESPN.

- As for what comes next, its conceivable talks are revived. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi reported Saturday morning that the Wizards and Suns "were exploring whether a deal could be made between the two teams that included Ariza, Oubre and Rivers" with the Grizzlies perhaps still involved.

Players signed as free agents during the offseason, including Ariza, could not be traded until Saturday regardless. Ariza signed a one-year, $15 million contract with Phoenix in July.

- That the deal fell through opens the door for other teams interested in Ariza. The Los Angeles Lakers were thought to be among the teams in the mix before Phoenix agreed to the three-way trade. Even if Washington hopes to find a new path, other teams now know the price and could counter with their own offers. 

Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers and Rockets were among the teams now “pushing the Suns” for a trade involving Ariza, who reportedly desires a trade to his native Los Angeles.

- Washington’s interest in Ariza comes on multiple fronts. The 6-foot-8 forward, who would start alongside Otto Porter, is one of the better 3-and-D players in the league, though his shooting numbers were off with the Suns this season. In 26 games this season, Ariza shot a solid 36 percent on 3-pointers, but only 37.0 percent overall while averaging 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Don't panic over Ariza’s shooting numbers for now.  The 5-25 Suns are perhaps the lone team in the league without a true point guard. In Washington Ariza would once again play with Wall, a five-time All-Star and one of the league's top passers. Factor in the presence of Bradley Beal and Porter and Ariza would find himself open on the perimeter often.  

The Wizards rank 29th in points allowed this season with 117.2 points per game. Ariza, 33, proved formidable on the perimeter during the last four seasons with the Rockets. Houston, a Western Conference finalist in 2018 with Ariza, has fallen to 13-14 this season in part because of their defensive shortcomings.

- Washington would reduce its luxury tax payment for the second time in the last week. Salaries for Rivers, another expiring contract, and Oubre combined for approximately $860,000 less than Ariza’s $15 million deal. That works out to around $2.1 million savings. Washington previously saved around $4.7 million by trading Jason Smith. The Wizards would have remained $5 million over the luxury tax in this failed scenario.

The trade would not shed major long-term salary, however. The Wizards are currently over the projected 2019-20 salary cap with only five players under contract. The Ariza deal would help the team keep playoff hopes alive this season and save some money in the process.

- Lastly,  the Wizards are expected to practice Saturday. We’ll see what happens.


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Rudy Gay, a famous Achilles tear success story, offers advice for John Wall

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Rudy Gay, a famous Achilles tear success story, offers advice for John Wall

WASHINGTON -- While some professional athletes have become synonymous with injuries because of how their careers have been derailed, there is a flip-side where others have become famous success stories. Nowadays, when an NFL running back tears his ACL, Adrian Peterson's name is often invoked. Rudy Gay is to a certain extent similar in the NBA for torn Achilles tendons.

In January of 2017, when he was with the Kings, Gay collapsed in agony while playing the Indiana Pacers. He suffered a full tear of his left Achilles tendon. He was 30 years old and a player whose game was predicated on athleticism.

Now in his third season since the injury, Gay is a key member of the San Antonio Spurs' rotation at the age of 33. In those two-plus seasons, he has played 140 games with solid numbers of 12.6 points, 6.1 rebounds per game and a .534 effective field-goal percentage.

Gay is one of the testimonials that should give the Wizards hope for John Wall, who is currently nine months into his own Achilles rehab. In fact, Gay spoke to Wall months ago about the road ahead.

"When it first happened, I talked to him," Gay said. "I'm always like anytime that happens to anybody in the league, they hit me up and I tell them exactly how I did it. I did the same thing with Kobe [Bryant]. I called him and he told me exactly what I needed to do and I followed that."

Gay told Wall, as he has told others in recent years, that the hardest part is not getting your leg back to 100 percent. What Gay found particularly difficult was clearing his head of the fear he would have the same injury again.

"It's mentally knowing when you go through that injury and the act of having that injury, the time always goes through your mind - 'what move did I make for that to happen?' Once you get that out of your mind, you're good," Gay said.

Gay said it took him a year to get over that. He also had to block out a lot of noise to remain confident in his ability to return.

"A lot of people have this image where they see it as a death wish for this sport. But you can't think like that when you're going through the rehab because it will affect you," he said.

Gay was a top high school prospect from Baltimore, Md. and starred at the University of Connecticut before going eighth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. He has long been known as a leaper, able to play well above the rim with his 6-foot-8 frame.

Because of that, there was plenty of skepticism over whether Gay would be able to affect games in the same way. But in Wednesday's game between the Wizards and Spurs, Gay showed he still has that jumping ability, even at his age and with his health history.

In the second half, Gay drove right and reached up for a rim-rattling slam. He jumped off his left leg, the same one that had the torn Achilles.

It was another reminder of what he has overcome. Tearing your Achilles used to be a devastating injury that ended many careers. Now there are people like Gay, still getting it done at the highest level.

He takes pride in being a success story, but also finds it strange to have that distinction.

"That's not why I did it. I did it just so I could prove to myself. I wasn't really trying to prove it to anybody, I was just trying to prove to myself I could get healthy and get back to the NBA. I think I did it at [30]. Everyone told me it would be tough to come back. Even my doctor told me I wouldn't be myself. The more people that told me I couldn't do it, the more it made me want to," he said.


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Ish Smith pokes fun at Myles Garrett after Wizards beat Spurs

Ish Smith pokes fun at Myles Garrett after Wizards beat Spurs

The Wizards handed the Spurs their seventh consecutive loss Wednesday night, due in large part to Ish Smith and the team's bench production. 

Smith scored 21, Davis Bertans added 21 of his own and Moe Wagner tacked on 13 points as well. The game-clinching run however, came in the form of a 22-3 blitz by the starting unit in the third quarter. 

Smith credited his starters after the game, and even took the opportunity to poke fun at Myles Garrett getting suspended for hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with the QB's own helmet. 

"They came out in the third, punched [pause] you know not literally," he said. "I can't say too much because Myles Garrett, but punched them literally in the face. We wanted to come in, the second unit, and maintain [the lead]."

Garrett has been suspended for the rest of the NFL season for what he did to Rudolph. What he did isn't exactly a joking matter, but it's pretty amusing how it popped into Smith's mind as soon as he mentioned figurative punching. 

If Smith can help the Wizards' bench sustain the starting unit's punches throughout the game, opposing defenses won't know what hit them. 

The challenge then, of course, becomes actually playing defense.