LAS VEGAS – The Wizards let Trevor Ariza leave to join the Houston Rockets but not without getting anything in return.
In a three-team trade with Houston and New Orleans, the Wizards signed Ariza to a four-year, $32 million contract and shipped him to the Rockets for an $8.5 million trade exception.
They also received the non-guaranteed contract of Melvin Ely from the Pelicans, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Ely, a 36-year-old journeyman forward, won’t suit up for the Wizards and was added as a throw-in, according to those same people.
The Rockets got Ariza and Alonzo Gee in the deal while sending center Omer Asik, Omri Caspri and $1.5 million to the Pelicans. NBA.com first reported the details of the deal.
By acquiring the trade exception, the Wizards now have considerable flexibility to improve the roster and make trades between now and next year. Exceptions are basically credits that count toward the salary cap but not the luxury tax.
Washington cannot use the slot to sign another player but they could acquire a player that another team wishes to dump and fits into that salary slot. The slot can also be used to get a player in a sign-and-trade deal.
The Wizards have two other exceptions – one worth $2 million from Philadelphia in a three-team deal involving Eric Maynor and another for $1.3 million in the deal with Phoenix in a deal involving Emeka Okafor. The exceptions cannot be combined to acquire a player making $11.8 million but have to used separately. Either way, the Wizards now have more options to make the team better – or they can simply let the exceptions expire after one year.