The Washington Wizards have lost a key member of last year's team, as free agent forward Trevor Ariza has agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets. As reported by USA Today, Ariza will sign a 4-year, $32 million deal designed to ensure the Rockets financial flexibility in future seasons. This will be Ariza's second stint in Houston after playing one season for the Rockets in 2010.
Ariza's signing means that the Rockets will most likely choose not to match the 3-year, $46 million offer sheet that forward Chandler Parsons recently signed with the Dallas Mavericks. After failing to lure Chris Bosh away from the Miami Heat, Houston was left unable to maximize their cap space by both signing Bosh and matching Dallas' offer for Parsons, and appeared hesitant to commit so much money to Parsons after failing in their goal to add a third All-Star caliber player to pair with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Ariza will be a nice consolation prize, as his strong defense and accurate shooting will provide a nice complement to Harden and Howard at a reasonable price.
Losing Ariza will be a blow to the Wizards, as he gave the team two productive seasons and was instrumental in last year's playoff run, where his perimeter defense and clutch shooting helped stymie the Chicago Bulls. Small forward now becomes an area of concern for the Wizards, as Ariza's likely replacement, Martell Webster, recently suffered a serious back injury. If the team doesn't make a move to replace Ariza, the small forward gig will likely fall to the untested Otto Porter Jr., last years first round pick.
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