LAS VEGAS -- The haggling with Trevor Ariza is going to take a while -- and much longer than the Wizards may have expected -- entering Thursday when free-agent contracts and trades can be made official. In fact, the process could drag out until Monday, CSNWashington.com has been told.
The wait will inflate Ariza's price, the way it does for almost every player who is vital and has value but isn't an A-lister such as LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. The teams left at the altar, possibly the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, have to scramble to fill the void. And given per collective bargaining rules, teams must spend at least 90% of the $63 million salary cap on players' salaries which will contribute to the salary inflation.
So are the Wizards still confident they can score Ariza?
Yes, but they've realized all along that he'll get greater financial offers. Whether or not he's as comfortable outside of Washington, especially with a point guard such as John Wall who assisted him on 165 of his 389 made field goals (42%), the Wizards believe they have the better foundation. They've re-signed Marcin Gortat and have a core in tact that won 44 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season. They walked away from the pitch meeting July 1 with the impression that he was sold on the vision.
The next move is for president Ernie Grunfeld to get on the phone with Rob Pelinka, Ariza's agent, to swap counter offers. Ariza made $7.7 million in the final year of his deal with Washington and produced the best season of his career, shooting 40.7% from three-point range. He wants a raise and the Wizards are willing to give him modest one but the offer would be for less than $10 million per year. The more years he wants on the deal, the less money per year they're willing to offer the 29-year-old.
The Wizards' hope is that Ariza, a Los Angeles native, will grant them what's tantamount to a "hometown discount" so they can retain him and room to operate under the salary cap and continue to build a winner. They believe he prefers to play in Washington, and they appear willing to wait out any threats that could lure him away rather than rushing to the table to consummate a deal.