Once the Davis Bertans announcement dropped you knew it was only the beginning. A lot of that has to due with the June 24th deadline players have if they want to opt out, and we can now add Trevor Ariza to that list. It's not because he's going to get a huge contract this summer and doesn't want to get hurt like Bertans, but instead because of a family issue. Frankly it makes me a little uncomfortable that Woj has that kind of detail surrounding the custody case, but I can't imagine there is a person on the planet that disagrees with Ariza's choice here.
As we know, the Blazers are one of the teams who are trying to catch the Grizzlies for that 8th spot. They are just 3.5 games back and are adding some pretty important rotation players like Nurkic and Zach Collins once things start back up again. They have every chance in the world to get within 4 games and have that play in against MEM. This isn't exactly the same situation as what the Wizards are dealing with, and Ariza was a quality wing option for them. He started all 21 of his appearances in POR and was playing 33 minutes a nught putting up 11/4.8/2.0 on 49/40% splits. You add in his veteran knowledge, and that's definitely a blow for a team that needs all the defensive help they can get, especially when you talk about some of the star power the Blazers may end up facing. Having a player like Ariza at your disposal would help.
This now makes guys like Melo/Anfernee Simons/Mario Hezonja even more important. That doesn't exactly make you all that confident as a Blazers fan if defense is your biggest concern (which it should be). I will say, Simons is an intriguing prospect off the bench given what he showed this year
but he's so young who knows what to expect in a high pressure situation. My guess is maybe they start Hezonja and have him on a quick leash, maybe give Nassir Little some run to eat up fouls or something. They could also switch things up and go big while starting both Whiteside and Nurkic in the frontcourt and put Melo at the three, but I wouldn't exactly want him guarding young/athletic wings. Not when you need his legs for offense.
The Blazers were already facing an uphill battle in their quest to sneak into the playoffs, and losing a legit two way wing who is playoff battle tested certainly makes things a little tougher. But I think what we are going to learn about this whole return is that sometimes life is more important. There's going to be more names, and some of them are going to be important rotation pieces just like Ariza.