As the NBA nears moving players into the Orlando bubble early next month, players must make a decision by Wednesday regarding whether they will opt out of participating and alert teams ahead of the transaction window the league is allotting for teams to fill roster spots and make additions via free agency.
Davis Bertans was the first player to opt out, as the Wizards sharp-shooter didn’t want to risk injury heading into a big free agency summer for the 9th seeded Wizards who are a long-shot to catch the 8-seed in the East. In the West, another team on the outside looking in for a playoff spot in the 8-game race to the postseason will be without a contributor as Trevor Ariza will reportedly not join the Blazers, but for a very personal reason, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sources: Ariza has been involved in a custody case over his 12-year old son, and mother’s choice of granting a court-ordered one month visitation period during league’s quarantine of teams in Orlando left Ariza to choose those parenting responsibilities over competing in restart. https://t.co/STYQi2RGDW
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2020
Ariza’s court-mandated visitation window with his son falls during the league’s restart, and he, very understandably, chose spending time with his son. Ariza’s situation illustrates the kinds of things going on off the court that players must contend with in making this decision, as there are family situations and needs, particularly in a time that is typically the offseason, that must be factored in on top of health concerns — both with injury risk and the unknowns of the complications that could arise long-term from the coronavirus — and questions about distracting from the Black Lives Matter movement. On the WNBA side, Jonquel Jones became the biggest star to announce she would be sitting out the season due to concerns about long-term effects of COVID-19, as the MVP candidate and Connecticut Sun star will choose to wait to return in 2021 instead.
The Blazers will be able to sign a substitute player from the free agent market, but Ariza’s absence is significant, as he had started 21 games for Portland this season since joining the Blazers, averaging 11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in nearly 34 minutes a night.