With the NBA’s deadline for opting-out of next month’s season restart in Orlando, Florida nearing, two key players have officially decided to sit out the remainder of the campaign — Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Portland Trail Blazers wingman Trevor Ariza.
As initially reported by ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim Bontemps, Bertans’ impending free agency in the 2020 offseason and his past injury history were cited as two specific reasons why he has decided to sit out as a “preventive measure.” Currently one of the top candidates for this season’s Sixth Man of the Year award, the 27-year-old posted career highs in multiple statistical categories in 2019-20, averaging 15.9 points per game and shooting 42.4 percent from three-point range on more than eight attempts per game.
Although Bertans hasn’t suffered any serious injuries since starting his NBA career in 2016, the former second-round pick tore his right ACL on two occasions during his professional career in Europe — first in June 2013 while playing for Partizan Belgrade, and then in March 2015 while with Spanish team Baskonia. He reportedly stands to lose $520,000 in salary if Washington (24-40, ninth in Eastern Conference) fails to make it past regular-season play.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 22, 2020
In a separate report from ESPN that also cited league sources, Wojnarowski wrote that Ariza, who took over as the Trail Blazers’ starting small forward upon his acquisition from the Sacramento Kings, had a completely different reason for choosing to miss next month’s season resumption. As explained, Ariza is in the middle of a custody battle over his 12-year-old son and has chosen to take advantage of the mother’s court-ordered decision to grant him a one-month visitation period as the teams participating in the restart stay quarantined in Orlando.
In 21 games played for Portland since his pre-trade deadline acquisition, the 34-year-old Ariza averaged 11 points, 4.8 rebounds, and one steal per game, with shooting percentages of 49 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. Per Wojnarowski, he is expected to lose between $1 million and $1.8 million in salary, depending on whether the Trail Blazers — who are at ninth in the Western Conference with a 29-37 record — make the playoffs or not.
As documented by CBS Sports, it’s still possible that more players will choose to opt-out of the resumption of the 2019-20 season before the NBA’s June 24 deadline for doing so. Some players, including Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, have been very vocal about their desire to sit out, with the All-Star point guard citing the ongoing unrest over social justice issues as his main reason for wanting to pass on the restart. Others, such as Memphis Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow, cited safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for their reluctance to suit up.