After at least three days of speculation and trade talks, the Washington Wizards formally announced Monday that it had traded Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to the Phoenix Suns for veteran forward Trevor Ariza, who returns to the District with plans to help improve its defense.
Ariza played for the Wizards between 2012-14 and averaged 12 points and nearly six rebounds per game. The team advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals in his second season with the team.
“Trevor has been one of the most effective, efficient and versatile players at his position for over a decade,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “We are obviously very familiar with the leadership and experience he brings as one of the league’s most respected professionals and look forward to welcoming him back to the team.”
Ariza, 33, has played for seven NBA teams throughout his 15-year career including New York, Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans and Houston. He reached the top-50 plateau this season on the all-time steals list in league history with more than 1,450.
This season, Ariza sits at number 25 in the NBA in steals averaging nearly 1.5 per contest.
In addition, he rejoins the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Ariza will make his return to Capital One Arena Saturday, Dec. 22 against the Suns.
“Trevor has a spark about him and a true desire for winning,” said Beal, who scored 25 points and 12 rebounds after Sunday’s victory against LeBron James and the Lakers. “He’s always accepted the challenge defensively and his leadership qualities. He’s great character guy. A perfect fit.”
Beal also expressed a bit of sorrow to see Rivers and Oubre, whom he called “like my younger brother” Washington acquired in 2015 after a draft-night trade with the Atlanta Hawks.
Oubre, who turned 23 on Dec. 9, saw his point production increase every year. During his fourth season in the District, he scored almost 13 points per game. He led the team in rebounding in three games.
Although a fan favorite with his youthful exuberance and flashy clothing, videos circulated online showed Oubre occasionally getting beat on the defensive end with backdoor cuts by opposing players for layups.
Washington acquired Rivers over the summer in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers for veteran and durable center Marcin Gortat. Unfortunately, Rivers, 26, fell out of the rotation as the season went on and shot only 31 percent from 3-point range, compared to 38 percent last season.
“I wish those guys well,” said Wizards forward Jeff Green, who joined his hometown team this season. “Phoenix [is] getting two guys who are gritty who are going to fight and going to play hard. We are getting a veteran guy who’s known for doing all those things. For the front office to make that trade, [executives] saw something that we needed and they accomplished it getting [Ariza]. I’m excited for what’s to come.”