The closer we move to the NBA’s plan to restart the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando, the more perilous it becomes. A group of players led by Kyrie Irving is concerned the returning to basketball will distract from the growing social justice movement, and the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in Florida.
Early on Monday morning, Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, who was in the midst of a career season, and is set to be a free agent, opted out of the remainder of the season. Now, Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza has joined him as the latest player to decide to sit out, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Ariza’s reasoning is much different from Bertans, however, as he is choosing to spend the time with his son.
Ariza, a starter, has been involved in a custody case over his 12-year old son, and the mother’s choice of granting a court-ordered one month visitation period during the league’s quarantine of teams in Orlando left Ariza to choose those parenting responsibilities over competing with the Blazers in the 22-team re-start, sources said.
Ariza, 34, could lose between $1 million and $1.8 million in salary, based on whether the Blazers qualify for the playoffs, for not participating in the restart. Ariza has a minimally-guaranteed $12.8 million contract for the 2020-2021 season.
Due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Ariza could unfortunately not bring his son with him to Orlando. According to a document obtained by CBS Sports, no player guests will be allowed until after the first round of the playoffs. This left Ariza to decide between parenting or playing. Unsurprisingly, he chose to be a parent.
The veteran forward was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the Blazers in January in a deal that involved Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver. In 21 games with the Blazers, he was averaging 11 points and 4.8 rebounds, while shooting an impressive 40 percent from 3-point land. He figured to be a key part of their rotation heading into Orlando, as they’ll compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Players who wish to opt-out of the bubble environment have until June 24 to notify their teams. The Trail Blazers will have an opportunity to sign a replacement player for Ariza.