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Wizards flirt with Luol Deng, trying to make Trevor Ariza jealous

Jul 10, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards - NBA Global Games Rio 2013 Getty Images

The Wizards, after their second playoff-series win since 1982, are putting a big emphasis on continuity.

Randy Wittman – retained.

Andre Millerreturning.

Marcin Gortatre-signing.

That leaves Trevor Ariza as the biggest asset hanging in the wind.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

https://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/status/487018952707416064

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

https://twitter.com/daldridgetnt/status/487071041865666560

At one point, Ariza seemed close to re-signing with the Wizards. But he has plenty of other suitors. Once LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony sign, Ariza will draw plenty of attention.

I’m confident he can get more than $9 million per year if he plays his cards right. Heck, he can probably play his cards wrong and get more than $9 million per year.

Deng is another second-tier free agent small forward waiting for LeBron and Melo to sign. Like Ariza, Deng could get a pretty high salary, as several teams are intersted.

However, after committing $12 million per year to Gortat, the Wizards can probably offer Deng only the mid-level exception. Maybe they can increase that offer slightly with a little creativity, but still wouldn’t be enough for me to take Deng to Washington seriously.

Unlike with Deng, the Wizards have bird rights to exceed the cap to sign Ariza. They can theoretically offer him anything up to a max contract.

Undoubtedly, the Wizards want to re-sign Ariza. I think they’ll ultimately have to offer more than $9 million per year, but they can wait a little to let the market establish itself.

However, Washington simultaneously courting Deng shouldn’t worry Ariza. Ariza, an unrestricted free agent, has the leverage here.

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