What a way to start the NBA Trade Season!
After an eventful and mind-boggling Friday night in the NBA that saw a three-team trade between Phoenix, Memphis, and Washington fall through because of a last name, the Phoenix Suns and the Washington Wizards finally agreed to a trade that would send Trevor Ariza to the Wizards and Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Suns. If you didn't know, the original deal had Ariza still going to the Wizards, Oubre going to the Grizzlies, and Rivers, Wayne Selden, and Dillon/MarShon Brooks going to the Suns. The Grizzlies believed that MarShon Brooks was going to Phoenix, but Phoenix believed that they were receiving Dillon Brooks, and insisted that they receive Dillon instead of MarShon. The Grizzlies were reluctant to do this, and the trade eventually fell through.
Ariza, 33, signed a one-year, $15 million contract on the first day of free agency in July and has averaged 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game with Phoenix. Many people figured that Ariza would be a mid-season trade target, and that was exactly the case, only he was dealt a couple months earlier than expected. Ariza previously spent two seasons in Washington, and had one of the best seasons of his career there during the 2013-14 season. Rivers is coming off the best year of his career where he averaged over 15 points a game with the Clippers, but has under-performed this year as a backup in Washington and gets a fresh start in Washington. Meanwhile, Oubre is having the best season of his career, averaging about 13 points and 4.4 rebounds in 26 minutes per game, and it will be interesting to see how he continues to develop in Phoenix. Let's take a look at the winners and losers of this trade.
Now if the trade that happened yesterday went through, the Suns would definitely be in the losers section. But the return they got for a mid-season Ariza rental is actually pretty good. They did get a point guard, even if it's Austin Rivers who I believe is mediocre and inefficient. The good thing about Rivers is that he is on an expiring contract, and likely won't be around next year. The one thing I hope Phoenix does is continue to start De'Anthony Melton at point guard, as he has been fairly good over the stretch of games that he has started recently and is someone the Suns should continue to give important minutes to in the future. As far as Kelly Oubre goes, I'm excited for what he brings to the Suns. My guess is that he will be one of the first players off the bench and will see a lot more minutes at power forward since that is a weak position and Phoenix already has players like T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson sharing minutes at small forward. Oubre should bring a lot of energy to the Suns' second unit and can consistently hit threes and play defense, which is a big help to Phoenix. Oubre is still very young at 22 years old and his rookie deal expires next year, so the Suns have plenty of time to determine if they want Oubre to stick with the team for the long run. This move isn't going to help the Suns win this year, but this is a good move for the future.
I don't really understand this move from the Wizards' point. Their team is imploding and trade rumors and dysfunction have been swirling around the team all year long. They currently sit at 11-18, good for 11th in the Eastern Conference and a very disappointing start. So why would the Wizards trade one of their only young assets in Kelly Oubre for an aging and expiring contract in Trevor Ariza? Sure, he gives them veteran presence off the bench on the wing, but is it worth trading away a promising player like Oubre? The Wizards could still make the playoffs, but it's still unlikely, and if they do they aren't in any condition to make a deep run. Washington would be smart to just blow this team up, get a good draft pick and rebuild, but it seems like they are making a last-ditch effort to reach the postseason once more.
The Grizzlies are only losers because they weren't able to get away with yesterday's fiasco. The Grizzlies almost got away with getting Kelly Oubre and only giving up Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks, until the Suns figured out it wasn't Dillon Brooks. This would have been a steal, but the Grizzlies ended up out of the deal as a whole. They are still having a great year and exceeding all expectations, but it would have been exciting to see Oubre in a Memphis jersey.
With Rivers and Oubre coming to Phoenix and stealing Ariza's minutes, Oubre will likely steal another wing player's minutes and create a bigger logjam than there already is. T.J. Warren is not losing his minutes, as he is proving is he a great 2nd or 3rd scoring option behind Devin Booker and maybe DeAndre Ayton. Same goes for Mikal Bridges, who is showing promise as a 3-and-D player and has played very well in his rookie season. That leaves Josh Jackson, who had a great second half to his rookie season but has been underwhelming so far this year. He has picked it up as of late, but he still hasn't really improved his shot, which therefore may eventually lead him to be the odd man out. As stated before, Oubre is under team control under next year, so the Suns may have to decide who is the better fit between the two by the time Oubre's deal expires.
Poor MarShon Brooks. His own team was trying to trade him to the worst team in the NBA, but even the worst team in the NBA didn't want him. That has got to be a crappy feeling, but hopefully he can turn things around be a key contributor to the Grizzlies' season. He actually isn't having that bad of a season, averaging 7 points in only 14 minutes, so Brooks may have the last laugh once April rolls around.