Hours earlier, a three-team trade that included Memphis imploded when the Grizzlies and Suns insisted each had been double-crossed over the insertion of an ancillary player in the deal. The Grizzlies believed the agreement included MarShon Brooks, and the Suns insisted Dillon Brooks was involved, sources said.
Once that deal fell apart, the Suns re-engaged with the Los Angeles Lakers on trade talks for Ariza, league sources said. Suns owner Robert Sarver and interim general manager James Jones were working with Ariza and his agents with CAA, Aaron Mintz and Steve Heumann, on brokering a deal with the Lakers, but it never materialized. The Lakers were unwilling to include one of their core young players in the trade, and the Suns ultimately moved back to complete a deal with the Wizards.
Ariza returns to the Wizards, where the organization sees him as an important addition to a fractured locker room -- and a teammate that All-Star point guard John Wall deeply respects. The Wizards were among Ariza's top-tier free-agent considerations in July, but Phoenix's one-year, $15 million offer was too irresistible of a financial score.
In the end, Ariza gets out of the reeling Suns organization and back to a playoff contender in the East. Ultimately, the Wizards believe they have a better chance at affording Ariza on a new deal this summer than Oubre, who will be out of their price range with three max contracts already on the roster.
Ariza, 33, became trade eligible on Saturday. This is the date players signing summer free-agent deals are allowed to be included in trades. The Suns, reeling at 5-24, had been willing to find a deal for Ariza.
Phoenix privately insisted that it had direct conversations with Grizzlies officials on Dillon Brooks -- not MarShon -- which Memphis flatly denied. The Grizzlies insist that they negotiated the deal through Washington general manager Ernie Grunfeld and that there had been a miscommunication to the Suns' Jones on Memphis' assets in the deal. Washington says it believed it was Dillon, not MarShon Brooks.
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace told ESPN on Friday night, "[Memphis owner] Robert Pera did not have any conversation with Suns owner Robert Sarver about the reported three-way trade. Our front office also didn't have any conversations with Phoenix regarding the reported three-way trade prior to it leaking during our game tonight.
"We were floored to learn of the reports involving Dillon Brooks in the reported trade. We never discussed Dillon as part of this trade with Washington -- which was the only team we spoke with concerning this proposed deal."
Shortly after ESPN on Friday reported the agreement in principle during the fourth quarter of Washington's loss to Brooklyn and Memphis' loss to Miami, officials on all three teams informed agents and players that an agreement had been reached and the players were traded, league sources said. Once Memphis and Phoenix officials saw conflicting reports on which Brooks was in the deal, the two teams talked directly, and the Suns told the Grizzlies they wouldn't complete this deal without Dillon over MarShon Brooks, sources said.
Soon, Wallace and Grunfeld were on the phone -- and disagreeing over the contents of the trade, sources said. Within minutes, agents were called back: Deal's off, players will return to their respective teams.
In anticipation of a trade Friday night, Ariza had been given permission to travel back to his Los Angeles home and prepare to join the Wizards, sources said. Now, Ariza is finally on his way to Washington.