According to a new report, the Portland Trail Blazers were in touch with forward Trevor Ariza in the weeks leading up to the NBA’s July 30 season restart, in hopes that he’d reconsider his decision to opt-out of the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign.
On Tuesday, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that there were unidentified Trail Blazers players who “tried to persuade” Ariza to fly to Orlando and play with them during the eight-game seeding stage ahead of this year’s playoffs. This came after the veteran wingman cited a one-month visitation window with his son as the reason he wouldn’t be playing for Portland for the remainder of the season.
As further explained, this visitation period was eventually moved forward with an ending date “near the start of August.” This led to some “optimism” among Ariza’s teammates, who were reportedly hoping that the NBA would allow him to enter the league’s “bubble” environment so that he could boost his team’s chances of securing a postseason berth. This idea reportedly came about when Los Angeles Clippers center/forward Montrezl Harrell and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson also cited family concerns when they left the bubble prior to the resumption of play.
According to Haynes’ sources, these attempts ultimately ended up unsuccessful due to the requirement that teams should apply for a hardship waiver or a late-arrival form in order for one of their players to enter the bubble separately from their teammates.
“Even if those steps were taken, the league would have likely denied the request because Ariza chose to opt out, wasn’t included on the restart roster and didn’t arrive with his team on July 9,” the Yahoo Sports journalist noted, adding that Ariza’s teammates were apparently unhappy over the turn of events.
According to his Basketball-Reference player page, Ariza played 21 games for Portland after he was acquired from the Sacramento Kings prior to this year’s trade deadline. Following his stint with the Kings, which saw him exclusively coming off the bench, the 16-year veteran was given a starting role with his new team as he averaged 11 points, 4.8 rebounds, two assists, and 1.6 steals and shot 49.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Given his solid contributions with the Trail Blazers, Haynes pointed out that Ariza would have been of great help had he been allowed to rejoin, especially since the organization still has a chance of sneaking into the postseason as an eighth seed. Per Haynes, the 35-year-old’s skill as a defensive stopper would have been “useful” against four-time MVP LeBron James, whose Los Angeles Lakers have already secured the first seed in the Western Conference playoffs.