With the NBA's moratorium on signings and trades over, the Wizards made head coach Randy Wittman available for the media. Primarily the questions centered on Washington's newly re-signed center Marcin Gortat. Eventually, the topic shifted to the organization's other notable free agent, small forward Trevor Ariza.
There is only so much Wittman can say at this point. That's part tactical and part uncertainty. The situations involving LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the top overall free agents who also happen to play Ariza's position, drag on deep into the second week of the free agency. Until those two announce their plans, league business just isn't booming.
"It doesn’t frustrate me," Wittman said of this year's start to free agency. "I’ve kind of become accustomed to it a little bit. If I’m letting that frustrate me, I’m going to have a tough time."
Wittman spoke shortly after Washington's final summer league practice before heading to Las Vegas and before Gortat's press conference regarding his new contract.
"Free agency never goes as quickly as you’d like it to, but I’ve got great confidence," Wittman said. "Obviously, a lot's being held up because some of the main guys that are waiting to make decisions that they’re trying to make, and it’s always a trickle-down effect after that. I was able now with Trevor being here two years to have a relationship built up there. A trust level I think that grew from his first year to his second year between he and I and the team is a great positive."
Already one of the league's top wing defenders, Ariza shot a career-high 41 percent on his 3-point attempts last season thanks in part to his chemistry with point guard John Wall. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, also a career-best. That production has turned Ariza into a hot commodity this summer.
"You always have to look at those kinds of situations as a player of why you do have success," Wittman continued. "A lot of it has to do with who you’re playing with and the people who you’re surrounded with. You always hope they have that in their line of thinking when they’re making decisions like this.
After making $7.7 million last season, Ariza's upcoming deal could be in the $9-12 million range, according to reports.
"He wants to look at everything," Wittman said of Ariza. "You don’t become a free agent every year and have an opportunity like you’re in so that’s not a bothersome thing. So I think here in the next day or two or whenever things start to happen and people start to slot themselves with what teams and stuff, you’re going to see a lot of things happen."
That would be nice for the coach. Now, the Wizards only have seven players under contract for next season, including Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene, Gortat and Otto Porter. That's four starters, but still hard to begin work on next season's plan when next season's roster is less than half full.
Wittman copped to "a little bit" of uncertainty regarding the empty roster slots, "but the guys we have signed are a lot of our main guys with John, Brad, Nene and (Marcin) now, Otto. So we’ve got some good pieces. But yeah, until you figure out (the roster, it's hard to gauge) do you have to go to Plan B or Plan C. You’ll have a better idea of where we’re at when dominos start falling. And I’ve still got great confidence that a lot of these dominos are going to fall our way."