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  • After a fruitless dalliance involving the Grizzlies, the Wizards and Suns were finally able to consummate a trade Saturday morning. Will either team improve as a result?
By Rohan Nadkarni
December 15, 2018

After a baffling “Who’s on first?” routine, the Wizards and Suns finally agreed to a trade Saturday morning, with Washington sending Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to Phoenix in exchange for Trevor Ariza. The Wizards appear to be fortifying themselves in hope of a more secure playoff run, while Ariza was basically burning a hole in the Suns’ pocket as the team’s most coveted asset. How did each organization make out in the deal? Let’s grade the trade for each side.

Washington: D+

Whatever. Ariza is a perfectly solid player. He will give Washington intelligent defense, a three-point threat (36% from behind the arc), and a valuable locker room presence. Ariza is a glue guy, and he played really well for two seasons in D.C. from 2011–13. But for the Wizards to trade a young player in Oubre for someone who is essentially a rental (Ariza is on a one-year deal) is monumentally short-sighted. Ariza does not change Washington’s ceiling whatsoever. The Wiz are still comfortably behind the Raptors, Bucks, Sixers, Celtics and Pacers in the East. This trade does nothing for their big-picture outlook, other than giving them a better chance of finishing as a bottom-three seed in the playoff bracket. That’s worth giving up on Oubre for? He’s certainly a flawed player, but at least bring him to restricted free agency and see what happens. Good teams would give themselves that opportunity. (Of course, Washington has been so utterly mismanaged that it may not have had the cash to keep Oubre next summer anyway.) This trade does little for the Wizards. If anything, it’s emblematic of the team’s haphazard management style, which is the biggest reason for Washington’s current lack of success. A teardown seems to be the most logical path forward for the Wiz. So of course they are shipping off a young asset for a rental.

Phoenix: C+

Ariza was the hottest name on the trade market at the time of this deal. Basically every contender could have used him. Are we sure this is the best Phoenix could do? Picking up Oubre isn’t bad, but the Suns also have two lottery picks of their own who need time at small forward. Rivers is a capable vet, but he doesn’t really fill the Suns’ glaring, blinding, intense-with-the-passion-of-a-thousand-suns hole at point guard. I can’t completely rip Phoenix for picking up Oubre after defending him in the last section, but the Suns had an extremely coveted trade chip and and cashed it for two players, one of whom is redundant from a roster standpoint, and another whom won’t truly help them where they need help the most. This is hair-pulling levels of infuriating. If Phoenix is shipping out vets because it still can’t be competitive, why not try harder for a future first or maybe a young point guard? The Suns shouldn’t have been in a rush to trade Ariza, and the trade feels a little underwhelming after how wide the market appeared for him.

NBA Fans: F

It would have been really fun to see Ariza go to the Lakers, Rockets, Thunder or any number of teams that are actually good/contenders/interesting. Maybe he still ends up in one of those places somehow, but from a league-wide intrigue standpoint, Ariza on the Wizards is a pretty big letdown.

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