Why did Trevor Ariza leave the Rockets, who came as close as anyone to beating the Kevin Durant-boosted Warriors in the playoffs, for the lowly Suns?
Ariza signed a one-year, $15 million contract with Phoenix last summer. That salary likely far surpasses what Ariza could have gotten elsewhere – especially Houston, where the Rockets are wary of the luxury tax.
Predictably, a veteran signing with bad team for a quick paycheck turned out poorly. The Suns traded Ariza to the Wizards essentially as soon as he became eligible to be dealt.
Duane Rankin of azcentral:
According to league sources, this was a “mutual” decision between Ariza and the Suns.
Ariza checked out mentally early in the season, according to sources. After practices would ended, he’d leave before everyone else, when that’s usually an opportunity to bond.
He’d break from the team huddle before his teammates and wasn’t engaged.
Signing Ariza to that contract was always part of a bad plan. He didn’t put the Suns over the top, and that money could have gone to a player with a future in Phoenix.
Sure, it would have been nice for Ariza to lead and mentor more. He could have served as a better example for the young Suns.
But it’s not easy to go from the peak of competition to a quickly lost season. Ariza’s misery was predictable and understandable.
It spread to the court, too. He’s having arguably the worst season of his career.
Washington hopes Ariza will play better there. He’s better cast as a glue guy on a good team.
However, it’s unclear whether Ariza will actually be rejuvenated by the Wizards, who’ve been stuck in their own turmoil. There’s also risk Ariza, 33, has declined due to age in ways that won’t simply reverse in a better environment.
At least he ends his depressing Phoenix chapter. This will be the lasting scene of his time there. Gina Mizell of The Athletic: