With so many teams pursuing big-name free agents like LeBron James and Chris Bosh, some will inevitably be left out of the mix. For those teams, Trevor Ariza may be emerging as a possible Plan B should the other options decide to head elsewhere.
The Washington Wizards remain the likely favorite to retain their starting small forward on a significant multi-year deal, but other suitors could become more aggressive as other players sign. While Ariza is far from the best player available at his position, the market will dry up quickly once the first domino falls.
According to recent reports, Ariza has already met with the Miami Heat, and could be the backup option for the Cleveland Cavaliers as well. In other words, both teams still in the LeBron sweepstakes view Ariza as their back-up plan, so at least one of them will end up competing with Washington for the player's services.
He's reportedly looking for $12 million annually, though, and that's likely going to be an issue for most teams. The Wizards understandably don't want to go there after committing $60 million to Marcin Gortat, and it's unclear if any team actually values him enough to make such a lucrative offer.
So while we can expect Ariza to get paid this offseason, it's hard to say how much he'll get or where it will be. Washington seems like the incumbent frontrunner, but it would take just one massive offer for the team to back away and look elsewhere for wing depth. And if enough teams get in the mix, someone might be desperate enough to offer big money.
Otherwise, Ariza will presumably just re-sign in Washington and keep doing his thing with John Wall and company. Either way, it's going to be a lucrative offseason for the lanky swingman.