The Washington Post

Wizards forward Trevor Ariza picks up option for next season

I'll be back. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) I’ll be back. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

In a move that was expected, Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza formally informed the team this week that he will exercise his option to remain with the team next season for about $7.7 million, according to two league sources familiar with the situation.

The Wizards were fully prepared to have Ariza back for the 2013-14 season, especially after the veteran stated his intention to come back last April because he’s not one to “leave money on the table.”

Ariza signed a five-year deal worth $35 million with Houston after winning a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009. The Rockets traded Ariza to New Orleans after one season and he played two more with the Hornets before the Wizards acquired him, along with center Emeka Okafor, in exchange for Rashard Lewis’s expiring contract. Ariza averaged 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds last season.

Okafor has an early termination clause for the final year of his deal, which is worth nearly $14.5 million, but he also stated his plan to stay near the end of last season. He still has no intentions to opt out, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

With Okafor and Ariza under contract, the Wizards will have roughly $57.4 million committed to nine players. That number rises to $61.7 million for 10 players with the third pick in Thursday’s draft slated to earn $4.3 million (including the usual 120 percent increase) next season.

The NBA salary cap won’t be released until the end of the month, but the projected number reportedly isn’t supposed to be much higher than last season, when it was set at $58.044 million. The luxury tax line was at $70.301 million.

The Wizards have two second-round picks, but President Ernie Grunfeld has already declared that it is “unlikely” that the team will have three rookies next season.

Washington does have access to the mid-level exception (worth roughly $5 million in the first year), the bi-annual exception (about $2 million) and minimum salary exceptions to sign players. It still has a $1.3 million exception left from the Jordan Crawford deal with Boston that could be used to acquire another player. But a $1.8 million trade exception from the Lewis deal expired last week.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.



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