After a long Friday night of unraveling trade agreements, accusations and hijinks, the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns were engaged into the early-morning hours trying to discover a pathway to a trade centered on Trevor Ariza, league sources told ESPN.
What had been an agreement on a three-team deal that would have sent Ariza and two Grizzlies second-round picks to the Wizards, Washington's Kelly Oubre Jr. to Memphis, and Washington guard Austin Rivers and Memphis forward Wayne Selden to the Suns unraveled once the Suns and Grizzlies couldn't agree whether Memphis' MarShon Brooks or Dillon Brooks would be joining Phoenix, league sources told ESPN.
The Wizards and Suns were exploring whether a deal could be made between the teams that included Ariza, Oubre and Rivers late Friday night, league sources said. Memphis had been consulted too, sources said.
Ariza, who signed a one-year, $15 million Suns deal over the summer, becomes trade-eligible Saturday. This is the date players signing summer free-agent deals are allowed to be included in trades. The Suns, reeling at 5-24, have been willing to find a deal for Ariza.
Phoenix privately insisted that it had direct conversations with Memphis 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 Suns interim GM James Jones on Memphis' assets in the deal. Washington says it believed it was Dillon, not MarShon Brooks.
Memphis GM 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 reported the agreement in principle during the fourth quarter of Washington's loss to Brooklyn and Memphis' loss to Miami, officials with 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 they were 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, 33, had been given permission to travel back to his Los Angeles home and prepare for his trip to join the Wizards, sources said. Washington was eager to reacquire Ariza, who had a tremendous impact on the team's locker room in his previous stop there. He was considered a good influence on All-Star guard John Wall.
The Wizards didn't believe they had the payroll flexibility to re-sign Oubre this summer, which led to him being sent to the Grizzlies in the proposed deal.
Ariza and his agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA, had hoped that the Lakers could complete a deal with the Suns, but that became more difficult to navigate in recent days, league sources said. Sarver became more sensitive about doing a deal with the Lakers in wake of the criticism that came with allowing center Tyson Chandler to get a contract buyout to join the Lakers last month, sources said. The Lakers had been eager to make a deal for Ariza.
Information from ESPN's Zach Lowe was used in this report.