The Washington Wizards took an enormous hit on Saturday when it was announced that Trevor Ariza would not be re-signing with the team, opting to go to the Houston Rockets and play with James Harden and Co instead.
Still, the Wizards have a backup option for their new hole at small forward and his name is Luol Deng, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Washington would love to replace Ariza with free agent Luol Deng, but only has the mid-level exception to offer him. He's seeking $10M-plus.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 12, 2014
Unfortunately for Washington, they simply don’t have the financial flexibility to meet his contract demands, as Wojnarowksi notes, so a signing with Washington seems highly unlikely.
The Wizards might have to make a move for a less expensive free agent or hope that Otto Porter Jr. and Martell Webster are enough. Whatever they do, unless they somehow are able to convince Deng to take a sizable discount, it will be impossible to make up for the loss in production from Ariza’s departure.
Ariza was outstanding in 2013-14, as he averaged 14.4 points (45.6 percent shooting from the floor and 40.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc), 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season. He’s also a premier wing defender and the Wizards will miss his ability on that side of the ball as well.
Deng averaged 16.0 points (43.1 percent shooting from the floor and 30.2 percent shooting from three), 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers.
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