Will Ariza bring a 'sense of ease' to the Wizards locker room?

Josh Luckenbaugh
December 18, 2018 - 11:13 am

Trevor Ariza is officially a Washington Wizard again, and at least one expert believes he could help turn the Wizards' season around.

Sekou Smith of NBA TV explained to The Sports Junkies Tuesday the calming affect a veteran presence like Ariza can have on a team's chemistry.

"Trevor Ariza brings a sense of ease to a locker room because of his presence and the way he operates," Smith said. "The professionalism, the doing it on both ends every night out there, the consummate pro. He adds an element to your locker room that might not otherwise be there." 

"You don't believe it, look at Houston's struggles without him," Smith continued. "It's not just about the raw numbers sometimes. Sometimes it's about the presence you have, the vibe you send out as a veteran leader on a team that allows everything else to fall into place."

The Wizards are currently sitting at 12-18, and have lost four of their last five games. But Smith doubts they'd have dug this type of hole for themselves if Ariza was on the roster at the beginning of the year.

"I wish they'd had Ariza from the start of the season, then we might be looking at a different season for the Wizards," he said. "I'm not trying to heap too much on his plate as a player, but I'm telling you: veteran leadership in the NBA is undervalued in ways I don't think the average person can understand."

"I look at guys like Ariza and Andre Iguodala and Al Horford, and think to myself: you need one of those types of guys in your locker room and in your mix as a team, just to add that element of ease for everybody else to know that you got a grown-up in the room."

Some fans are nonetheless frustrated the Wizards didn't get more than Ariza in the deal which saw them ship a young talent in Kelly Oubre Jr. (plus Austin Rivers) to the Suns. 

However, Smith thinks Washington got fair value in the trade, given the Wizards probably weren't going to be able to re-sign Oubre in the offseason.

"You look at the contracts they've already handed out, there was simply gonna be no money to spend on what Kelly Oubre might command on the free agent market," Smith told the Junkies.

"You're compounding some other questionable decisions with perhaps another bad one by letting Oubre go. If he goes somewhere else and ends up reaching his full potential, yeah, you're gonna wish you had him. But those are the hard decisions you have to make as an NBA front office."

"When the salary spike a few summers ago twisted the world upside down, teams have been dealing with that fallout ever since," Smith concluded. "Some guys who you wouldn't want to have paid the kind of money you did are walking around with those nice big contracts, and it's costing you on the other end if you're one of these teams like the Wizards."

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