If the Phoenix Suns decide to buyout Trevor Ariza after a disappointing year, the Houston Rockets could bring back the forward this season.
We’re now in the slow months for the NBA. The NBA Draft, Summer League and free agency are in the rear view mirror, so there isn’t a ton of basketball news flooding the inter web.
Most of the offseason chess moves are over for the Rockets and the team they have now is largely the one that they’ll start the season with on Oct. 17. Houston added Carmelo Anthony and James Ennis, two wing players that can help replace the departures of Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza.
Ariza was definitely the biggest loss of the offseason for Houston, but he could return to H-Town sooner rather than later. Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post points out that Trevor Ariza could get bought out by Phoenix sometime next season, clearing the path for a return to Houston.
“One other thing to consider: Ariza is on a large expiring contract on a team that is going to be, even with its improvements, among the worst in the West and should be nowhere near a playoff spot. That could lead to Ariza being a buyout candidate. And who could use him more than just about any other team? That would be Houston. That is one possibility to keep in mind for how the Rockets will solve their current deficit on the wings.”
After signing a one-year, $15 million contract, Ariza is now the highest paid player on the Suns. However, he’s on an expiring contract and is the second oldest player on a team that will be at the bottom of the conference standings. Going forward, the Suns don’t really have much of a need for Ariza. Sure, he’s a veteran presence in the locker room, but there are a lot of veteran’s that can be signed for a third of the price.
If the Suns decide to buyout Ariza in or before February, the Rockets would be all over him. Ariza would give Houston a ton of wing depth and in the buyout market the Rockets would be able to sign him for less than what he made last season.
The Rockets are usually active in the buyout market. About a month ago, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told Space City Scoop’s Michael Knight that there’s a “decent chance” Houston adds a player in the buyout season.
The biggest question surrounding Tim Bontemps theory is if Ariza would want to return to the Rockets. On his podcast, The Lowe Post, Zach Lowe said that Ariza is bothered by how teams, including the Rockets, treat their superstars differently than the role players. Obviously, Ariza didn’t leave Houston for this reason, it was more of a money move, but you have to wonder if it at least played a part in his final decision.
The good news is that nearly across the league, there are different rules for superstars than there are for lesser players. Any solid team with a couple of standout players would probably have the same “divide” that apparently bothered Ariza in Houston.
Either way, if this insane scenario actually happened, it would be a huge win for the Rockets. Houston needs another wing defender and Ariza would be among the cheapest 3-and-D players on the market.